The World Health Organization has declared Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’ and a few confirmed deaths because of this variant has put health officials of several countries on alert. As far as India is concerned, the number of cases related to Omicron is on the rise. Considering this, the Delhi government has already banned mass gatherings on Christmas and New Year as a precautionary measure. As the number of cases continues to rise, here we are going to answer all your questions related to COVID-19 Omicron Strain.
Where it was first reported?
The B.1.1.529 variant of the coronavirus was first reported in South Africa on November 24, 2021. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared B.1.1.529 as a ‘variant of concern’ on November 26 and it was named as ‘Omicron.’
Why are we so concerned about Omicron?
Technical Advisory Group of the World Health Organization on Virus Evolution presented evidence and based on it Omicron was classified as a ‘variant of concern’. The evidence showed that Omicron has several mutations. The speed at which it mutates makes the variant most unpredictable. This could also impact how easily it spreads, how severely it can make a person ill and the most important one is that how effective existing COVID-19 vaccines would be on it.
Is it more easily transmitted?
There is no specific data on it but the number of COVID-19 positive cases jumped in the area of South Africa shortly after Omicron was detected. More research is underway to ascertain the cause behind it.
Does it cause a more severe illness?
According to early data, the rate of hospitalisation in COVID-19 patients increased in the recent past. However, there is no specific data to link it with Omicron. As most of the symptoms of Omicron are the same as other known COVID-19 variants, it may take some time to determine if Omicron causes more severe illness.
Are existing vaccines effective against Omicron?
As very little is known about this variant of COVID-19, more research needs to be done to understand its impact. However, the WHO has maintained that all existing vaccines remain effective against this variant.
How Omicron can be detected?
According to health officials, current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics can detect this variant.