Why is the Omicron variant of Corona so deadly and scary?
The Omicron variant is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on 24 November 2021. On 26 November 2021, the WHO designated it as a variant of concern and named it “Omicron”. The COVID Variant “Omicron” has a large number than all the previously known coronavirus variants. It is believed to be spreading faster than the delta variant – the world-dominant strain.
- Fever, cough, drowsiness, and a loss of taste or smell.
- A sore throat, headache, aches and pains, diarrhea, a rash on the skin, discoloration of the fingers or toes, and red or irritated eyes
- Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath, a loss of speech or movement, disorientation, or chest discomfort.
Children have also been a target, with numerous researchers looking at whether Omicron might progress to a more serious illness. According to studies from South Africa, the effect on children may be identical to that of the Delta variant. Some of the high rates of infection among younger children are due to their inability to receive vaccines, which puts them at risk.
There have been no reports of an increase in the severity of symptoms associated with Omicron cases in children or adults so far.
Is the Omicron variant more severe than other COVID-19 variants?
Researchers believe that Omicron is less severe than Delta, but further research is required, and the World Health Organization advises that it should not be ignored as “moderate.” Although research is underway and little is known about the new variant, early data indicates that Omicron is more infectious than previous variants. Also, persons who have already been infected with covid-19 may be at a higher risk of reinfection.
The ability to evade immunity, along with the extremely high transmission rate, separates this variant from all other COVID variants that have come before it.
The spike protein of the virus is one of the most important parts. This is the part of the virus that makes contact with human cells and is a major immune system target. Antibodies attach to the spike protein and prevent the virus from infecting the body. The spike protein is crucial for both the virus’s activity and the immune system’s ability to combat it.
The spike protein of Omicron has 36 mutations, compared to 10 in alpha, 12 in gamma, and nine in the delta. Omicron has mutations in the part of its spike protein that interacts directly with a receptor on human cells called ACE2. Omicron’s alterations seem to boost its affinity for ACE2, allowing it to infect cells more effectively and increase its reproductive rate and transmissibility. Antibody-based therapy, including monoclonal antibodies and convalescent plasma, is also less effective as a result of the mutations to the spike protein.
Most Covid-19 vaccinations are designed to aid the immune system in recognizing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and the omicron mutations tend to make the initial generation of vaccines less effective. Their impact against omicron isn’t zero, and protection from the variation improves considerably with booster doses.
The origin of omicron multiplication in the body has recently been reported by researchers at the University of Hong Kong. After infection, the omicron grows 70 times quicker in the bronchi — the airways going into the lungs — than the delta. Omicron, on the other hand, replicates at a slower pace in the lungs than the original virus.
More variants will come, but we can take steps now to stop them?
Omicron is more dangerous than other mutant variants there are several ways to prevent it from infecting people.
Vaccination is essential, particularly booster shots. To slow the spread of omicron and prevent the formation of new variants like it, vaccinations must be distributed globally, not only in richer nations.
More viral replication in the upper airways may make it simpler to exhale virus particles, allowing them to spread more rapidly. It also produces less severe illness than other variants due to the decreased number of cells in the lungs.
Covid-19 testing is another part of the healthcare control method, that aims to identify potentially asymptomatic patients and start treatment as soon as possible.
What should we do to prevent you from Omicron infection?
Face masks are essential, given how quickly this new variant is spreading! Before going out, make sure your mouth and nose are well covered with a double-layered mask.
Social Distancing is Must
Don’t go to overcrowded public venues as little as possible. Maintaining a social distance has become extremely important as the number of Omicron in the world increases. To reduce the risk of spreading, stay away from air-conditioned areas. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated room or out in the open.
Vaccinated or not, currently, everyone is prone to Omicron infection. Considering the new variant is highly transmissible and can evade vaccine immunity, one must stay on guard, wear masks and maintain social distance from other people. “In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.”
People must engage and work towards leading a healthy and hygienic lifestyle. Kids must avoid touching objects that might infect their hands, therefore hand sanitizers are of utmost importance. This is one of the key factors in the spread of the virus.
Dr. Mehta’s Hospitals