All you need to know about Omicron variant
Omicron variant developed?
When a virus spreads widely and causes several illnesses, the virus’s chances of changing rise. The more chances a virus has of spreading, the more chances it has of changing.
New COVID-19 variations like Omicron serve as a warning that the epidemic is far from finished. It is also critical that individuals acquire the vaccination as soon as it becomes available and continue to follow existing guidance on limiting the transmission of the virus, such as physical separation, mask use, regular handwashing, and keeping indoor places adequately ventilated.
It is also critical that vaccinations and other public health interventions are widely available. Lower-income nations, many of which are in Africa, are at the mercy of COVID-19 because to vaccine inequities. Well-supplied countries must supply the dosages they promised as soon as possible.
Do current COVID-19 tests detect the Omicron variant?
The commonly used PCR tests continue to identify COVID-19 infection, including Omicron. There is continuing research to see if there is any effect on other types of testing, such as quick antigen tests.
What is the spread rate of Omicron?
The Omicron variant is more likely to spread than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, and how quickly Omicron spreads compared to Delta is uncertain. The CDC thinks that anyone infected with Omicron will be able to transfer the virus to others, even if they have been vaccinated or do not have symptoms.
How can Seniors protect themselves against the Omicron variant?
The most important thing you can do is lower your chances of being infected with the virus. Take the following precautions to safeguard yourself:
1) Cover your nose and mouth with a mask. When putting on and removing your mask, make sure your hands are clean.
2) Maintain a physical gap of at least one metre between yourself and others.
3) Avoid places that are inadequately ventilated or congested.
4) Open windows to increase interior ventilation.
5) Regularly wash your hands.
6) Get immunised when it’s your turn. COVID-19 vaccinations certified by WHO are both safe and effective.
Do lateral flow tests detect the Omicron variant?
Individuals who prepare the sample themselves and obtain a response in 20 minutes employ lateral flow tests, commonly known as antigen testing.
According to a statement on the UK Parliament website, experts are convinced that lateral flow tests may detect Omicron illnesses, but further study is needed to confirm this.A lateral flow test, on the other hand, cannot tell you which variant you are infected with.
Key symptoms that have been associated with the Omicron variant
1) Body aches and pains
4) Scratchy throat
Is Omicron milder or more severe than prior variants?
Early findings associated Omicron with modest illness, prompting optimism that the variation will be less severe than some of its forefathers.
However, these claims, which are sometimes based on anecdotes or insufficient pieces of data, might be deceptive, warns Müge Çevik, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of St Andrews, UK. “Everyone is looking for data that can help us,” she explains. “But it’s incredibly difficult right now.”
When determining the severity of a variation, one of the most difficult challenges is determining how to account for the numerous confounding variables that might impact illness progression, especially when outbreaks are geographically limited.
Reports of moderate sickness from Omicron infection in South Africa, for example, may reflect the country’s youthful population, many of whom had previously been exposed to SARS-CoV-2.
Will current boosters improve protection against Omicron?
Because of the threat posed by Omicron, several wealthy countries, like as the United Kingdom, have accelerated and expanded the distribution of COVID vaccination booster doses. However, it is unknown how successful these dosages will be against this variety.
According to Bieniasz, the third dosage boosts neutralizing-antibody levels, which will likely offer a bulwark against Omicron’s capacity to avoid these antibodies. His researchers discovered that persons who had recovered from COVID-19 months before receiving their vaccines had antibodies capable of neutralising the mutant spike.
According to Bieniasz, these findings imply that persons who have been exposed to SARS-spike CoV-2’s protein several times, whether through infection or a booster dosage, are “very likely to have neutralising activity against Omicron.”
Where has Omicron spread and how are scientists tracking it?
More nations are finding the Omicron variant, but the ability to swiftly sequence viruses from positive COVID-19 testing is concentrated in rich countries, implying that early data on the spread of Omicron will be skewed.
According to virologist Renato Santana of the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, surveillance efforts in Brazil and other countries are taking advantage of a characteristic result on a specific PCR test that might allow them to identify possible Omicron cases for sequencing.
The test searches for portions of three viral genes, one of which encodes for the spike protein. Because mutations in Omicron’s spike gene impede detection in the test, samples harbouring the variation will test positive for just two of the genes.
Nonetheless, not everyone utilises that test, and it may be some time before Omicron’s spread is completely mapped. Despite some guidelines asking nations to sequence 5% of SARS-CoV-2 positive samples, few can afford to do so, according to computational virologist Anderson Brito of the All for Health Institute in So Paulo, Brazil.
And Brito is concerned that travel prohibitions imposed by certain countries on South Africa and other southern African countries in the aftermath of the Omicron finding may prevent governments from sharing genetic surveillance data. “We’re punishing those who performed an excellent job,” he says.