If there is again a mutation in the current Omicron strain, it can become severe: Dr Ankit Bansal, Consultant, Pulmonology & Critical Care, Fortis Escorts Hospital Jaipur

Posted On Fri, December 10, 2021, 1:00 PM
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The emergence of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 is a matter of concern because there is a tendency for the virus to change its appearance and certain genetic characters. Once the appearance changes, it might get difficult to recognise. If there are only a few changes then our body's defence system recognises it but if there are major changes (according to the reports, there have been more than 30 mutations) in the structure of the virus, then it's worrisome.

The first case of Omicron was detected in South Africa on November 25. It was immediately informed to WHO that this may be a variant of concern since the structure of the virus has changed. Since in India, it's a relatively new entity, as we had around 23 cases of Omicron. Though the number isn't high since there has been a change in the virus' structure - your immune system has difficulty identifying it now, therefore the virus can easily infect you.

Immunocompromised individuals, such as those with diabetes or any kind of chronic disease will be more vulnerable to this virus. With whatever data that we have as of now from the countries of its origin, there's nearly more than five times infectivity as compared to the Delta strain, so it's easily transmissible and if a person is exposed to this virus there are more chances of getting them infected. The research is still on, but yes, to some extent, these vaccines should be effective against Omicron.

Talking about the symptoms, though it's too early to say, with whatever information we've got from S. Africa shows, we can that there's some resemblance with the Delta variant (throat pain, lethargy, fever etc.) with certain changes, and only time will tell about its severity. If the number of cases goes high, it will be a danger because healthcare facilities will suffer. After all, many resources will be utilised for that purpose. Though the reports till now suggest that it's a milder disease, you can't ascertain that it will always be the same, if there is again a mutation in the current Omicron strain, it can become severe.

For the population that's still unvaccinated, the primary goal is that they get vaccinated since it takes 4-6 weeks to build immunity. Avoid social gatherings, since it's an easily transmissible virus. Mask has been a great weapon for us, we're not over with Covid yet, we need to be cautious.

Children are reasonably more prone to this new variant because that's the only population left that has not received any kind of vaccine. The sooner the children get vaccinated it's better. Speaking about the situation in South Africa, it has reasonably more cases of Omicron but a lesser number of admissions in the hospitals. It's being said that this new variant has fewer or no symptoms of loss of smell and taste.

This press release is posted under categories India, World, Health

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