By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 20, 2022, 11:43

On November 26, 2021, following the advice of the WHO Technical Advisory Group (TAGVE) on viral evolution, WHO classified variant B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern named Omicron. This was based on the verification and proof presented in TAGVE, regarding several mutations of Omicron that can affect its behaviour, such as its ease of spread and the severity of the disease it causes.

Current Knowledge of Omicron

It has still not been scientifically verified whether Omicron is more contagious (e.g., easier to transmit from human to human) as compared to other varieties including Delta Omicron. An increasing number of people tested positive in South Africa, but epidemiological studies have been conducted to understand whether this is due to Omicron or other reasons.

Currently, there is no information showing that the symptoms associated with Omicron differ from those of other variants. The first reported infection was a college student (a young person who is prone to mild illness), but it takes days or weeks to understand the severity of the Omicron variant. All variants of COVID19, including the predominant delta Omicron variant in the world, can cause serious illness and death, especially in those at greatest risk, and such prevention is always important.

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Efficacy of Previous SARSCoV2 Infection

It is suspected that there could be an enhanced risk of reinfection with Omicron compared to other concerns for example the people previously infected with COVID19. Some people may be more susceptible to reinfection with Delta Omicron, but the information is limited.

  • Vaccine Efficacy

Vaccines remain important in reducing serious illness and death, including those against the predominant circulating Delta Omicron. Current vaccines are deemed to be effective and protective against serious illness/death.

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  • Current test efficacy

PCR Tests are widely used to detect Omicron infections and its other variants. Research is underway to see if it affects other types of tests, for example, rapid antigen detection tests.

  • Current treatment efficacy

IL6 receptor blockers and Corticosteroids continue to be effective in treating patients with severe COVID19. Other treatments are being evaluated to see if some of the viruses in the Omicron variant are still effective, even if they are altered. WHO will continue providing updates and the minutes of the TAGVE meeting which can be easily available on the WHO digital and social media platforms.

To conclude, Omnicron has been a variant of the coronavirus that was more aggressive in terms of transmission. Although the susceptibility to this particular variant is quite high, the dangers of this are not as serious.

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FAQs on Omicron

Q.1. What is Delta + Omicron Recombinant Virus?

This is a COVID19 hybrid version that combines genes from the variants of Delta and Omicron. Philippe Colson, the lead author of the study of IHU Mediterranee Infection in Marseille, France, said that coronavirus gene recombination is known when two mutants infect the same host cell. During the pandemic, two or more subspecies have circulated in the same geographic region over the same period, creating opportunities for recombination between these two subspecies.

Q.2. Is Omicron a serious infection?

So far, the 17 confirmed cases of the recombinant delta Omicron were previously recognized in the US and Europe. Since there were almost no confirmed cases, delta Omicron infection is too infant or fierce a disease to claim it's a serious illness or not.

Q.3. Is Delta Omicron contagious?

The initial report from South Africa indicates a case wherein in a single day, 300 cases of the infection rose to 3,000 rose in two weeks period. This probably helped most places for general deformation. Over 30 mutations in Omicron are located in the viral spike protein, the part that attaches to human cells, some of which are thought to increase the likelihood of infection. Therefore, some of its enhanced transmission may be due to its ability to evade some immune responses, especially in previously infected but unvaccinated individuals.

Q.4. Can vaccination prevent Omicron?

The CDC states that vaccination and boosters up-to-date is the best defence against Omicron. You have the option to select the 4th shot. Similar approvals are given to people with certain immunodeficiencies.

Q.5. What are the recommended Measures for Individuals to avoid Delta Omicron?

The most effective measures an individual can take to control the spread of the COVID19, Omicron, or Delta Omicron virus is to:

  • Wear a mask that fits well
  • Maintain a 1-meter physical distance from others
  • Avoid poorly ventilated or crowded areas
  • Keep your hands clean
  • Open windows to improve ventilation
  • Cough or sneeze on a bent elbow or handkerchief
  • Get vaccinated