The Omicron variant is the latest variant of SAS-CoV-2, the virus that is the cause of COVID-19. It was first identified in South Africa on 26 November 2021. This variant was named by World Health Organization (WHO) as Omicron (the fifteenth letter in the Greek alphabet. Due to its property of increased transmissibility, WHO has classified it as a variant of concern (VOC)? A variant of concern possesses the potential for faster transmissibility, severity of illness or decreased effectiveness of vaccine treatments and public health measures, according to the WHO. This infectious virus has been found in at least 58 countries all around the world. Initial study indicates elevated risk of reinfection with this contagious variant. This variant’s detection has created an atmosphere of huge panic and uncertainty, with a large number of countries restricting arrival of foreign flights and travelers.
Comparison of Omicron with Delta Variant
Common symptoms linked with the Omicron variant are entirely different than what has been detected in the Delta variant. Strong fatigue, tiredness, muscular pain, dry cough, and itchiness in the throat are symptoms that have been observed in patients infected with this virus. The hallmark symptoms of Delta variant of corona virus are loss of sense of taste and smell, continuous coughing, runny nose and fever. Both variants of Covid-19 have huge differences in the number of mutations. Researchers found 43aa mutations in the spike proteins of the Omicron variant, whereas 18 were found in the Delta variant.
After detection of this variant, the WHO has issued a statement that the recently found virus has a number of mutations which are responsible for its severity and fast transmissibility. The WHO has declared both variants as the ‘’variants of concern’’. The lab examination report of the genome sequencing of patients infected with this virus has uncovered that the newly detected variant is highly mutated as compared to the Delta variant. Scientists, researchers and medical experts are closely evaluating the swift spread of this new variant to determine its potential to cause severe infection and evading the effectiveness of vaccines.
Strategies to Cope with Anxiety and Stress during the Omicron Hype
As people were coming back to normal life after two horrible years of pandemic a huge wave of uncertainty, anxiety and stress is prevailing around the world. Uncertainty can cause depression among human beings. In order to overcome anxiety and stress associated with Omicron hype, mute social media accounts that disturb and create hype instead of explain. In order to relax yourself mentally, emotionally and physically, create a list of things;
- Sleep regulation
- Time management
- Ventilate yourself
- Diversion and distraction
- Physical exercises
- Limit news exposure
Can Omicron Variant Evade Immunity from Infection or Vaccines?
The Omicron variant’s rapid rise in South Africa signifies that it has some ability to overcome immunity. About 35 percent of the population of South Africa is fully vaccinated. Initial data from laboratory studies indicates that the variant can evade the protection given by vaccines.
However, booster shots can help if enough doses can be managed quickly. Data collected from recent research conducted in South Africa suggests that two doses of BioN Tech/Pfizer vaccine are ineffective against the fatal variant. Chief executive and co- founder of BioNTech stated in a press briefing those three doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech are suitable to provide enough protection against the contagious variant. Daniel Altman, working as a professor of immunology at Imperial College London said that people who are still unvaccinated are likely to be a victim of this highly mutated variant.
Role of the WHO in Minimizing Suspicion Regarding Omicron
Omicron, the newly discovered variant of the COVID-19 has created massive fear and anxiety among the governments across the world because of its swift transmissible nature. The variant has provoked apprehension for the battle against the nearly two years old corona virus pandemic.
As scientists continue to evaluate the newly detected variant, the UN World Health Organization [ WHO] persuaded countries not to panic but to make preparations for its likely spread. While keeping in view the nature of the new variant, the WHO has suggested countries to implement effective public health measures to decrease the COVID-19 circulation over all. The UN health body has also suggested the countries to ensure full vaccination of maximum number of populations in order to decrease the risk of severe infections among the people.
The WHO stated that it is trying to understand the potential impact of this variant on existing countermeasures, including vaccines. WHO alerts that omicron travel bans can harm the global cooperation as these travel bans are inhibiting the sharing of samples from South Africa. According to the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19 Maria Van, travel bans are having a worst impact on global cooperation against the newly detected variant by delaying the sharing of laboratory samples from South Africa that can shed light on the new strains of this variant.
What Are The Preventive Measures Against The Omicron Variant?
As studies and researches are ongoing in laboratories to find the potential impact of the Omicron variant, here are some preventive measures we should adopt to protect ourselves from this fatal variant:
- Frequently sanitizing hands
- Wear the masks
- Avoid traveling and social gatherings
- Ventilation of indoor spaces
- Vaccination is mandatory
The emergence of a newly mutant virus known as Omicron variant has pushed the world into huge loss of world economy, disruption in education patterns, isolation, and negligence towards medical facilities. About half of the population of the world is being affected physically, socially and emotionally from the fatal and swift rise of this variant. Scientists and researchers are working diligently to keep the world safe from this pandemic. It will take few weeks or months to sort out all the aspects of this variant whether it will be mild or severe as compared to other variants of Covid-19. It is the responsibility of international media to provide facts and should avoid to create hype and panic in the recent days of anxiety and uncertainty.