The viruses that cause COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, have a variant known as Omicron. It was earlier reported to the World Health Organization on November 24, 2021, by South Africa. The WHO identified it as a variation of concern on November 26, 2021, and named it “Omicron,” the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet.
The Omicron variation features an exceptionally large number of mutations, many of which are unique and many of which disrupt the spike protein targeted by most COVID-19 vaccines at the time of discovery. Despite initial studies showing that the variant caused less serious disease than prior strains, this amount of diversity has raised worries about its transmissibility, immune system evasion, & vaccine resistance. The variation was promptly labeled “of concern,” and numerous countries imposed travel restrictions to slow its international spread.
Is the third wave on the way?
With the advent of the Omicron strain, South Africa has announced the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cases of Omicron are progressively being reported from countries other than South Africa. Given its features, it is expected to spread to more nations, including India, according to the health ministry.
Effects of third-wave corona:
The country’s micro, small, and medium companies are again concerned about Covid stress. Small enterprises that could barely recover from the previous two waves on a shoestring budget are now facing the Omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2, or third wave, which is expected to peak in February 2022. Omicron has already been identified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization due to various alterations. While researchers worldwide are attempting to determine its transmissibility & virulence or severity in comparison to prior variants such as Delta, preliminary evidence suggests that Omicron may pose a greater risk of reinfection with this variant than with other variants of concerns.
According to industry analysts, the impact on MSMEs over the previous two waves has been fatal. Many are compelled to close their operations and lay off staff during the period, even though the government has not recorded any statistics. While the second wave’s human casualties were exceedingly high, the economic damage was allegedly less severe than the first.
Is there anything one can do to protect from the Omicron variant?
- The essential thing you can do is lower your risk of being infected.
- Make sure to use a mask that covers your mouth and nose to protect yourself & your loved ones.
- Ensure your hands are clean when putting on and removing your mask.
- Maintain a physical distance among yourself and others of at least one metre.
- Avoid areas that are crowded or inadequately ventilated.
- By opening windows, you can improve indoor ventilation.
- Hands should be cleansed on a regular basis.
- When it’s your turn, get immunised.
What safety measures should be taken?
The precautions for preventing Covid-19 infection with Omicron are the same as for previous strains:
- Wearing a mask properly
- Receiving both doses of the Covid-19 vaccination
- Social distancing
- And maintaining maximum ventilation.
Existing vaccinations against Omicron are they effective?
There is no indication that present vaccines do not work on Omicron, denying claims that vaccination is ineffectual against the coronavirus’s most recent form.
Even though studies suggest the new strain might induce reinfection in vaccinated citizens, the government claims that “vaccinations are likely to continue to give protection against severe disease, and immunization with the existing vaccines is vital.”
WHO is currently working with a vast number of researchers worldwide to properly understand Omicron. Assessments of transmissibility, the severity of illness, performance of vaccinations and diagnostic tests, and treatment effectiveness are all currently underway or will be soon.
WHO urges countries to contribute to the gathering and exchanging of hospitalized patient data via the WHO COVID-19 Clinical Data Platform so that clinical features and patient outcomes can be described quickly.
In the next few days and weeks, more information will become available. TAG-VE of the WHO will continue to monitor & evaluate data as it becomes available and assess how mutations in Omicron affect the virus’s behavior.