All viruses mutate over time. So is the SARS-CoV-2 virus or COVID-19 as we know it. Ever since the pandemic started, five variants have been recognised as variants of concern: the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron variants.
The latest variant – Omicron is proving to be the most contagious and thus giving severe headaches to authorities and health experts at the same time.
First reports of this variant are understood to have come from South Africa back in November 2021. The origin of the variant being in South Africa is not yet settled.
The variant also was detected in the Netherlands and Nigeria in or around October / November last year.
It is the pace at which it is spreading which has authorities and experts concerned all over the world. In the US and UK, this variant – Omicron – accounts for more than 90 per cent of all cases in some regions. India on Monday (January 10) recorded 1,79,723 fresh Covid-19 cases, pushing the active caseload to 7,23,619. The daily positivity rate stood at 13.29 per cent.
India also recorded 146 deaths in the last 24 hours.
France also recorded more than 100,000 Covid cases in one day, most were linked to Omicron.
In Australia more than 99,000 cases were recorded with the most in only NSW (30,062) and Victoria (44,155). Authorities admit the real numbers are way higher than recorded. The two states alone account for more than 464,000 active cases in Australia.
Alxso read: Dealing with Omicron variant in Australia
Infection rates are also soaring across South Africa. In France, the nation recorded more than 100,000 Covid cases in one day and most were linked to Omicron.
Omicron is milder than Delta
Although infection rates are skyrocketing, early evidence suggests Omicron variant is substantially milder than Delta, at least in younger people. Some experts believe for some people – who potentially are infected, it might be like another flu, perhaps a bit nastier but nothing more than that.
The symptoms and the way to handle the infection – for some, may also work exactly the same way – by taking paracetamol and resting at home – which will keep them isolated and this others safer.
Experts say there may be as much as a two-thirds reduction in the risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation when compared to the Delta variant.
It is a tricky situation dealing with the virus. Experts from various international universities believe people who are double vaccinated and receive a booster shot are more than 50% per cent less likely to have Covid-19 symptoms if they get infected. Although it is good for them who get infected, it is not so good for those others who may come in contact with them (those infected and having no symptoms).
Vaccines work against Omicron
According to the Australian Department of Health, there is no evidence to suggest that the vaccines are less effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalisation or death from Omicron.
Pfizer and BioNTech emphasised merely two doses was significantly less effective at blocking the Omicron strain and a third shot was very necessary to fight the variant effectively.
According to a report in the Herald Sun, studies from South Africa, Sweden and Germany showed similar results.
Some experts are already talking about the end of Omicron in the next two to three months. But then there are some others who say Omicron might mutate and thus come back to haunt us all again.