The new Omicron variant was first identified in Botswana and South Africa.
The new variant is now spreading worldwide to more than 110 countries, namely Britain, Norway, and Denmark. The United Kingdom is now seeing 260,873 Omicron cases, as of January 26, 2022, compared to about 10,000 cases in December.
Among the mutations are 30 mutations responsible for the virus to attach to human cells.
Based on first-hand data on Omicron, the new variant has the potential to outpace Delta’s transmission rate and become the dominant COVID-19 variant. doubling time is three days, shorter than Delta’s time of two weeks. it can potentially outpace Delta and spread more quickly, giving it more credence than it can quickly infect half of Europe in just a few weeks.
Some hospitals have already witnessed how infectious the new variant is, as most of the COVID-19 patients they received are Omicron patients. it became the dominant variant in several hospitals in just three weeks, while Delta took three months to exceed 80% of total cases.
Even though the variant’s transmissibility is high, the early findings suggest that its symptoms aren’t as severe as that of other variants.
Even if the new variant is not as severe as Delta, Omicron’s high transmission rate can still be problematic.
Omicron Symptoms vs Delta.
Many positive individuals didn’t experience any loss of taste or smell or suffer any drops in oxygen levels. The most common symptoms are the following:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Many Omicron patients showed up with symptoms similar to that of a simple head cold and less with pneumonia-like symptoms, unlike in previous COVID waves.
Everyone should still stay wary of the variant even if the variant’s symptoms are less severe than Delta. The World Health Organization still does not want people to get complacent with Omicron. People should continue staying wary of Omicron.
People can continue protecting themselves from Omicron by following already established health protocols.
Among them are the following:
- Always wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
- Practice social distancing, preferably a distance of one metre.
- Always wash hands.
- Stay at home as much as possible, especially when feeling sick.
- Have a healthy lifestyle.
- Take a PCR test before travelling.
Getting vaccinated is still the best defence against COVID-19, even Omicron, apart from staying indoors and avoiding contact with other people. In addition to the standard vaccine shots, people should get a booster shot to supplement their initial vaccine’s efficacy since both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are still at risk of getting infected.
Regarding COVID testing, a PCR test is still the effective means to detect the virus as it was shown to identify Omicron infections quickly. A rapid antigen test is slow when identifying Omicron and is slower than a PCR test.
It is still too soon to know whether or not Omicron will have long-term symptoms, but experts hope it won’t.
These two factors are integral in the hope that Omicron will not have long-term symptoms as the vaccine can prevent symptoms from developing, and its current symptoms are less damaging anyway.
Omicron is not that severe compared to other variants, but it is still a variant of concern because of its high transmission rate. However, current safety measures and vaccines remain effective in preventing Omicron.
Anyone curious about the new COVID variant can check out this condensed article about what is currently known about the new coronavirus variant by Harley Medic International.