Updated: Jan 2
After the many dangerous SARS-Cov 2 variants that we have seen since the onset of the pandemic, we are now hearing of a new variant called Omicron.
Is the new Omicron variant more deadly? What are some omicron symptoms to look out for? What does testing omicron positive mean? And what has Omicron Delhi news got to say?
Read more to find out everything you need to know about the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
What is Omicron?
The term “Omicron” comes from the modern Greek alphabet. It is the 15th Greek letter and conforms to the trend of the World Health Organization’s naming of COVID-19 variants after Greek alphabets.
Did you know that WHO has used as many as 12 letters from the Greek dialect in its naming of COVID-19 variants?
Where did the Omicron Variant Originate From?
The new COVID-19 variant is said to have first been detected in South Africa on 24th November 2021. Some scientists believe that Omicron may have resulted from the antiviral drug Molnupiravir which works through the creation of genetic errors in viruses. However, such claims cannot be verified at the time.
Does the New SARS-Cov-2 Variant Spread Faster?
What forms the crux of this Omicron FAQ is the question of whether the new COVID-19 variant
spreads faster than the previous variants.
Well, it is naturally expected of viruses to get more and more transmissible as they undergo the
process of mutation. Recent reports have shown that Omicron does, indeed, spread faster than the Delta variant. The high transmission rate of the new variant has caused major panic among people across the globe.
Health officials in the UK report Omicron to spread three times faster than the Delta variant. It is also said to grow 70 times faster within the host body.
But does this mean that the new variant is more deadly and can worsen the Covid India situation
beyond despair? Not necessarily.
What is the Risk of Hospitalization?
All viruses that mutate at an exponential rate are bound to get weaker and less deadly with time. This means that the more newer Coronavirus variants we see, the weaker it actually becomes.
Recent reports say that the risk of hospitalization is significantly lower in the case of the Omicron variant – although severe cases are not a rarity.
The risk of getting hospitalized from testing Omicron positive is somewhere 20-25% lower than the related risk of the same in the case of the Delta variant.
Some common symptoms that you should look out for include –
- Fever and body ache
- Loss of taste and smell
- Sore throat and coughing
- Fatigue and weakness
- Shortness of breath (Severe)
If you have any or all of the above symptoms and you believe yourself to be in risk of contracting
COVID-19, quarantine yourself or contact a health official at the earliest.
Vaccine Effectiveness against Omicron Variant
According to a recent study by the Union Health Ministry, 91% of the 183 people who were
afflicted with testing Omicron positive in their study were fully vaccinated.
This Omicron data is alarming for a country like India where COVID precautions are grossly
Netizens have often blamed the Central government for conditions of poor vaccine
availability, but the recent events have further pushed the government to reiterate that
vaccination alone cannot bring an end to the pandemic.
WHO updates on the current situation say that researchers in South Africa are working hard
to provide real-time statistics about Omicron and better understand its severity among
people from different age groups.
The good news is that RT-PCR tests continue to be an effective testing method for the detection of the new variant.
Understanding the impact of Omicron is now more important than ever- as India fears a deadly third wave that might affect unvaccinated children the most.
WHO on SARS-Cov-2 Variants
The most considerable communication by the World Health Organization on the new SARS-Cov-2
variant was its News Update on 28th November 2021. It alerted the world about the Omicron variant, formally known as variant B.1.1.529, and deemed it as a Variant of Concern.
WHO has also recommended countries to send relevant data to its Clinical Data Platform to enhance global surveillance and strengthen its fight against COVID-19.
WHO also suggests people to take guided steps to reduce the spread of the virulent virus. For
- Maintain social distancing – a minimum distance of 1 meter from people in public places.
- Protect yourself with well-fitting masks.
- Avoid coughing or sneezing directly onto other people.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap.
How to Protect against COVID in India?
Omicron Delhi news has recently created panic among people all over the country. At a critical time like this, it is essential for you to protect yourself against COVID at all costs.
Here are a few measures to equip you in your battle against the COVID India situation.
- Follow WHO listed recommendations listed above
- Avoid busy markets and crowded places. Try to explore online shopping options.
- Avoid poorly ventilated spaces like offices and cinema halls.
- Advise friends and family to stay vigilant against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
Cause for Concern Among Medical Practitioners?
Government agencies and health officials currently have very limited numbers on the Covid India
situation in light of the new variant. The limited research available and the lack of standardization in treatment protocol is adversely affecting medical practitioners.
Thus, it is crucial for doctors to stay vigilant about newly emerging symptoms and determine
patient-specific treatment accordingly.
Furthermore, there is a pressing need to keep a close watch on hospitalized patients. The case
history of previously affected patients can help doctors take more informed decisions in the absence of consolidated protocols.
The new Omicron variant has created a new and unexplored territory for our COVID warriors. More is yet to be known. However, what we do know is that the high transmission rate of the new variant is a cause for concern. Pandemics in history (HIV/AIDS and the Spanish Flu of the 1920s) have all remained historic and the same is expected of COVID-19.
In light of the new variant, we encourage you to practice covid-safe norms and protect your family by following WHO-approved norms.
Share this Omicron FAQ among your friends and family to raise awareness about SARS-Cov 2
variants, Omicron symptoms and more.
The Author :
Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi