WHAT IS OMICRON AND HOW TO STAY SAFE
● What is the Omicron variant?
WHO has designated Omicron as a variant of concern, based on evidence that it has numerous mutations that might affect how it functions. There is still a lot of ambiguity about Omicron, and a lot of study is being done to determine its risk of transmission, severity, and risk of reinfection. The Omicron variant has now been discovered in a number of nations throughout the globe. According to the WHO, Omicron is most likely present in most nations, even though it has not been discovered officially in many countries.
● Development of the Omicron variant
When a virus spreads widely and causes a large number of infections, the chances of it mutating rise. The more chances a virus has to spread, the more chances it has to alter. New COVID-19 variants, such as Omicron, serve as a warning that the epidemic is far from finished. People must receive the vaccination as soon as it becomes available and continue to follow existing guidelines for limiting the transmission of the virus, including physical separation, wearing masks, handwashing regularly, and keeping indoor spaces adequately ventilated. Vaccines and other public health measures must also be readily available worldwide. Lower-income nations are at the mercy of COVID-19 because of vaccine inequities. Well-supplied countries must supply the dosages they promised as soon as possible.
● Severity of the Omicron variant
Early evidence suggests that Omicron is less severe than the Delta variant, but further research is needed, and the World Health Organization advises that it should not be disregarded as “mild.” Studies are still continuing on the variant. It is vital to note that all COVID-19 variants, including the Delta variant, which is still prevalent globally, can cause serious illness or death, which is why limiting the virus’s transmission and lowering your risk of infection are very important.
● How contagious is the Omicron variant?
Omicron has been found to be spreading at a faster rate than the other variants. Where there is COVID-19 transmission in the population, WHO estimates Omicron will likely exceed the Delta variant. Vaccination and precautions such as avoiding crowded settings, maintaining social distance, and wearing a mask, however, are crucial in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as these measures have worked in the past against previous versions.
● Symptoms of the Omicron variant
There is no evidence that Omicron induces COVID-19 symptoms that are different from those caused by other COVID-19 variants.
● Effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron variant
Researchers are investigating if the Omicron variant has an influence on the efficiency of COVID-19 vaccinations. Although data is currently scarce, there may be a minor decrease in the efficiency of vaccinations in avoiding serious sickness and death, as well as a loss in preventing mild disease and infection. However, according to the WHO, the currently available vaccinations appear to provide considerable protection against severe illness and death. Vaccination is also necessary to defend against other widely spread variants, such as the Delta variant. If your vaccination requires two doses, make sure you get them both to get the most protection.
● Is a prior COVID-19 infection effective against the Omicron variant?
Early research shows that past infection may provide less protection against Omicron than other types of concern, such as Delta, according to the WHO. Even if you have had COVID-19 before, you should be vaccinated. While patients who recover from COVID-19 may gain some natural immunity to the virus, we do not know how long this protection lasts or how effective it is. Vaccines provide a more dependable level of protection. Do current COVID-19 tests detect the Omicron variant? COVID-19 infection, including Omicron, is still detectable using commonly used PCR and antigen-based fast diagnostic tests.
TIPS TO STAY SAFE AGAINST THE OMICRON VARIANT
- Keep wearing masks
- You should keep at least a six-foot distance from people when outside, in addition to avoiding large gatherings. Masks are still the most important safety net against the numerous variants of COVID. The mask must be worn appropriately to cover the nose and mouth. Double-mask at all times when outside to reduce risk significantly.
- 2. Avoid confined places
- If conducting any event is necessary, make sure to conduct it outdoors instead of in confined places where the spread of the virus will be more likely.
- 3. Research before travelling
- Experts have encouraged individuals to be a little more flexible about the places they wish to visit over the New Year season because people tend to travel a lot during that time. Staying safe may be as simple as doing some research on the place you intend to visit and learning about the active number of COVID-19 cases in the area. Furthermore, you may learn about vaccination coverage in a certain place to better assess the risk of travelling there.
- 4. Get vaccinated
- In terms of COVID-19 vaccinations, the Indian healthcare system has admirably covered a large number of individuals, but many people are yet to receive their second dose or have not been vaccinated at all. So, the best method to avoid an Omicron infection is to get vaccinated as soon as possible. There are rumours that the new variant might induce a breakthrough infection, but nothing has been verified as yet. Furthermore, preliminary research shows that the Omicron virus can only evade immunity to a limited level. As a result, getting vaccinated is the finest defence mechanism we have right now.
- 5. Keep the rapid test kits handy
- When travelling out of town, it is a good idea to have some rapid test kits on hand to see whether you have caught the virus. Despite the fact that they are not completely accurate, they can greatly assist in recognising an illness in its early stages, allowing you to receive early treatment and isolation.
- 6. Safety First
- Fever, sore/scratchy throat, weakness, bodily soreness, and other symptoms of disease should not be overlooked. Isolate yourself, visit a doctor, and avoid meeting new people until you have a better understanding of your illness. It is critical for the protection of your family.
Before the Omicron variant emerged in South Africa, COVID-19 was almost entering the endemic stage, and it has since spread to numerous nations. Therefore, it is our obligation to proceed with caution in order to prevent the spread of this variant. Virtual parties may be a secure and enjoyable way to celebrate the New Year. Avoid needless travel, be responsible, and remember to wear your masks.