Omicron, a new type of corona has been identified in South Africa, which is capable of repeated mutation. Due to its structure, it is feared that the new Covid-19 infection may spread in the world. Therefore, concerns have spread in different countries of the world. Restrictions and travel bans are being issued. Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) and scientists around the world have already expressed concern about a new type of coronavirus, Omicron. Here is what we know about Omicron.
What is Omicron?
Omicron is a new variant of Covid-19. Initially, the scientific name of this new Covid-19 variant was B.1.1.529. But it got its name Omicron on November 26. Omicron has been named after the Greek alphabet like alpha and delta. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this type of virus is very worrying, as it has been reported to cause repeated genetic mutations. If you have previously been diagnosed with Corona or are experiencing symptoms that may indicate an infection this could mean re-infection for your concern!
Where was Omicron first identified?
According to the scientific journal Nature, this Covid-19 variant was first detected in Botswana. Samples collected in Botswana found Omicron on November 11. It was then identified in South Africa after that it was also identified in Hong Kong. However, the information was given by the country soon after the variant was identified in South Africa. In the past two weeks, coronavirus infections are on the rise in Gauteng province of South Africa due to the new strain. Scientists have been studying the adaptive genetic variation in this species, and they found some interesting results. It seems that it came from a person with reduced immunity such as an untreated HIV / AIDS patient.
Why are scientists so worried?
This type of spike protein has more than 30 mutations, which is more than double that of the highly contagious delta variant. Viruses basically use the spike protein to get into our cells. Scientists and doctors have raised concerns that because of this dramatic change in the virus, currently used vaccines may not be able to cope. Based on genetic mutations, scientists predict that Omicron will cause more infections, and it may even affect people with strong immune systems.
Is Omicron more contagious than other variants?
Although the extent of the infection is not clear, what is known about the type is very worrying, and the research is ongoing. However, the outbreaks appear to be exacerbated in South Africa. In South Africa, where 50 new daily cases were found in every 100,000, on November 20, the number has increased to 592%. And more than 80% of infections were found in the country's Gauteng province. Preliminary analysis shows that this variation of Covid-19 is rapidly emerging as the dominant type. An early warning has become urgent.
Currently, it is unknown if covid symptoms are going to be changed due to this new variant. Scientists from all around the world are watching this situation closely. It may take some time before we know for sure what caused it and how frightening it is. But until then, there is no strong cause at all to worry about just yet.
However, a closer look at this variant reveals a few things. It is clear that part of the virus that comes in contact with the human body can change the receptor-binding domain ten times. On the other hand, the Delta variant can change only twice.
Will the existing vaccine work against Omicron?
Scientists are worried about new genetic modifications of Omicron. However, researchers predict that these mutations could bypass the immune system. Hence, it would make them extremely effective at spreading covid across the population without being detected by antibodies or any other defense mechanism so far discovered in humans. Since we are now aware that the rate of re-infection, in reality, is higher than other variations, it suggests there may be a change in human immune systems.
Scientists have indicated that the coronavirus vaccines currently available may not provide adequate protection against a new variant. However, people at risk for infection should receive their vaccine immediately in order to reduce transmission rates and severity of illness. But scientists don't know yet how this strain will be different from others already circulating. Hence, we have to wait until any concrete information is published. Till then, proper precautions are mandatory.
After getting the above-mentioned information, some questions have come up about the Omicron variant. These include how quickly can the new variant of COVID-19 spread. Another burning question is that, can the vaccination-induced immune system prevent this Omicron variant? What to do to prevent Omicron from creating infection inside the human body?
Is there any risk of a worldwide outbreak?
There has been an increase in the number of infections around South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong. Further, one such case was reported from Israel last Thursday, who returned recently; two more people are suspected to be infected as well, with the potential for spreading throughout the country. Belgium and the UK also found affected people. But, so far, this variant has spread at the group level in South Africa mostly. All these shreds of evidence support that Omicron is an outbreak if it is not controlled.
This new variant has already caused a stir around the world; The European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and other countries have imposed border restrictions.
How is Omicron different from other variants?
The variant has changed the gene pattern much more often than the other variants found so far; One group of scientists described it as "terrible," and another said they had never seen a worse variant. Some of the mutations found in B.1.1.529 have been seen in other variants before. As a result of these mutations, the new COVID-19 variant Omicron is expected to become infected quickly. But there are other mutations in the new variant that may prevent the body's antibodies from detecting the virus, and the vaccine will be relatively less effective, scientists say.