As the world started learning to live through this tough pandemic phase, South African scientists discovered a highly mutated version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 virus, more contagious & potentially replacing the other dominant variants like the delta one. Formally known as B.1.1.529, has high transmission rate & is a concerned variant as per World health organization. Researchers all around the world have confirmed its ability to evade the vaccine effect on this kind considering the super mutation of more around 50 spike based proteins as most of the existing vaccines target the virus's spike protein.
CAUSES OF CONCERN
The first case of this new omicron was reported in Botswana, South Africa 🌍 on 11 November, 2021,when the world was actively trying to cope up with the loss of the previous 3 waves of the pandemic. The rapid increase in the cases per day in South Africa led to the three main concerns, immunity evasion even after vaccination (antibody escape), transmission rate and last but the most important, level of uncertainty related to clinical manifestation, and complications based severity. The cases are being closely monitored all around the world by the experts, two things have been concluded for sure, first being the variant having great transmissibility rate and vaccines not being effective against it.
Immunity evasion or escape has been under observation, but cases of reinfection and the data provided by the PCR testing results are clearly indicating that so far the immune system has not been proven to be effective at all. Gratefully the efficacy of the vaccine induced immune responses have stopped the alpha, beta, lambda & the delta variants but given the n number of mutations that omicron version has to flaunt, the fear of another wave 🌊 cannot be denied for sure.
HOW IS INDIA COPING UP?
Daily cases mostly with omicron variant are on a rise & we have already reached 200, National Committee has projected the arrival of the fourth wave with the dominant omicron variant will hit the country early next year bit the number of cases per day are expected to be lower than the peak of last wave. The severity of the cases is predicted to be milder than the last wave as India has around 80% of sero prevalence rate at the moment. A whopping 40% of the cases have been reported to come from the state of Kerala but as per the centre 's direction to the states, social distancing, a lot of precautions, preparations at the hospitals, ban on gatherings & curbs on any major celebration will be back.
SYMPTOMS OF THE LATEST OMICRON
The omicron has started its journey by infecting the young adults, and also vaccinations have blunted the edges of severity which is masking the real, full blown symptoms of the variant. The number of patients turning up to the hospitals are manageable. Mild fever, cold & cough are the major symptoms that have been observed, there is no suggestion so far of any other differentiating symptom.
THE WAY AHEAD
Vaccination - World Health Organization has already warned various countries to go for another shot of booster dose. Studies are underway to understand the immunity escape, countermeasures, effectiveness of various vaccines & further studies regarding transmissibility, severity & symptoms of the omicron.
Testing is the key- India has so far relied on Rapid antigen testing as well as PCR tests to determine the Covid-19 infections. Genome sequencing of the virus from the recently discovered cases along with other kinds of easy and faster forms of testing than PCR are being studied and researched as more data learning will pave the way to move ahead.
Current Treatment options- Continuous assessment regarding the symptoms is going on in the country. Corticosteroids have been found effective along with IL6 receptor blockers. Paracetamol is an obvious choice of drug for symptomatic relief in case of mild fever & body malaise. A lot of other option of treatment are also being studied to provide relief.
Social Distancing is here to stay- Social distancing is not going anywhere, at least not in the near future. Washing hands, covering mouth will surgical masks, 2 meter distance, avoiding social gatherings are all going to super important & essential as a fear of vanished vaccine induced immunity is looming at our heads.
Scientific section has already prepared a rough portrait of the latest threat, 3 times more contagious but less likely to cause deaths than the delta variant. The omicron can multiply quickly in the bronchial tree section & has been to trick the innate immune system as well as antibodies induced barrier as per latest reports by various health institutions all around the world but there is no denying that it is too early to say anything, situation may escalate anytime soon and we should all be ready.