The Omicron variant is less severe and more contagious than previously discovered Covid-19 variants, giving scientists hope that it will be the End of the Covid Pandemic. This blog shares the recent research findings on omicron and how it affects humans.
What are Variants?
Viruses are known to change and evolve with time as they move from person to person. Scientists and researchers map the genetic material of viruses and then compare the changes to determine if they have evolved. When the changes become significantly prominent and differ from the original virus, they are called variants.
As SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus, has spread worldwide, variants have emerged and been identified in various countries.
Several coronavirus variants have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic as the virus, SARS-CoV-2, continues to change and evolve. Most of these variants have very little or no effect on humans.
A new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 was reported to the WHO in November 2021 and was named Omicron. It has been known as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization. The number of positive omicron cases is rapidly increasing across England. It is spreading incredibly faster than the Delta variant. The overall risk associated with Omicron is significantly high, and more people are getting affected.
Is Omicron Variant the Beginning of the End of the Covid Pandemic?
As the variant spreads rapidly, many countries witness a significant increase in omicron cases reported every day. Several studies show the new variant has a higher infection rate as compared to its predecessors. But, hospitalization and death rates are stable, providing a slight glimpse of hope.
According to some analysts, the omicron variant rapid spread is a sign that the coronavirus will soon be endemic. However, its role in the End of the Covid pandemic is still unclear. The WHO warned people against concluding the coronavirus outbreak is over.
Since this new variant mainly affects the upper respiratory tract instead of the lungs, demand for oxygen and intensive care unit (ICU) beds has decreased dramatically. On the other hand, the high infection rate among healthcare professionals has significantly burdened the hospital workforce.
Can Omicron Help in Stopping the COVID Pandemic?
According to researchers, the omicron will effectively help in the End of the Covid Pandemic. Several studies depict an increase in minor breakthrough infections among vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. It is because this variant does not affect lung cells.
Also, omicron infection offers broad immunity; thus, the minor illness will improve the immunity of the vaccinated people and protect the nonvaccinated person against COVID-19.
But not everything is beatable. According to some researchers, the Covid outbreak will not completely disappear until a significant worldwide population has coronavirus immunity. Children in many countries are still unvaccinated.
In some cases, coronavirus is responsible for developing several health conditions, including blood clots and strokes. Heart attacks are also expected during the cold weather. Therefore, people with high blood pressure or diabetes are at higher risk and are more likely to get affected by omicron.
Importance of Mask in the Battle Against Omicron
UK government has made a guideline for the citizens to wear masks even if omicron variant is causing minimal symptoms. It helps to protect people and plays a significant role in reducing the viral load of omicron.
Is the Covid Vaccine Effective for Omicron?
Covid vaccines work efficiently against all variants, including omicron. The protection and immunity provided by the vaccination seem to be holding up well. New variants will continue to appear with time, but our current vaccines are effective enough to suffice. Hence, we do not require new vaccines every time a new variant is discovered.
Pre-existing immunity, either gained by infection or vaccination, will protect you against new and unexpected variations.
How Can We Prevent New Variants from Appearing?
As mentioned earlier, like other viruses, SARS-COV-2 will continue to evolve and change as long as it spreads. In other words, the virus’s rapid spread increases its risk of getting changed. Hence the best approach to stop more variants from arising is to prevent the spread of the virus in the community.
Follow some simple guidelines set by the UK government to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19. These include:
- Keep the minimum distance of 1 meter from people
- Make a habit of coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow or tissue
- Cover your mouth with a well-fitted mask
- Keep your windows open
- Wash your hands regularly
- Get yourself vaccinated
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