The medical fraternity has released an alert on the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. It released the information that there is a new Covid-19 variant known as Omicron. The new variant has been confirmed in over twenty countries. There is scant information on what its real threat will be. It was detected in specimens collected in Botswana and South Africa. The World Health Organization classified it as a “Variant of Concern.” The variant went on to be detected in the United States of America and then in European countries afterward.
Why is the new Omicron Covid-19 variant different?
The Covid-19 Omicron variant studies explore an increase in the Covid-19 cases. This is because the variant has the potential to move faster and infect vastly more people than the other variants before it. It has also been noted that the Omicron Covid -19 variant has the potential to evade immunity. A large percentage of those who have been confirmed infected have also been noticed to be as people who have previously recovered from Covid-19 caused by other variants that include the Delta Covid-19 variant, people who had been previously fully vaccinated against Covid -19 have also been found to be easily infected with the new Covid-19 variant.
What are researchers doing about the new Omicron Covid-19 variant?
Medical researchers in the virology departments are looking at ways of neutralizing or using virus-blocking antibodies methods triggered by previous infections and vaccinations to stop the Omicron Covid variant from further infecting the cells. Another approach they are using is using the neutralizing antibodies using infectious Sars-Cov-2 particles. This will be a build-up to the studies done by makers of the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine. This will be useful in determining how it holds up against the vaccine. It is believed that the omicron variant blunts the potency of the neutralizing antibodies.
How does the Omicron Covid-19 variant react to the vaccines?
It is believed that the previous immune responses brought about by previous infections or by the vaccinations do not offer protection against the new Covid-19 omicron variant. It has been noted that some countries are accelerating the rollout of Covid-19 vaccine boosters’ doses. These vaccine boosters work by supercharging the neutralizing antibody levels. This is believed will provide a bulwark against the Omicron variants’ ability to evade the antibodies.
The current vaccines however are expected to protect against severe illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths due to the infection with the omicron variant.
How does the omicron variant spread and how is tracked?
There has not been a systematic way of detecting the Omicron Covid -19 variant. This is because most countries lack the capacity to rapidly sequence viruses from the normal Covid-19 tests. There has however been progressing in some countries. A country like Brazil is using a distinct result from a particular PCR test. This test has the potential to pinpoint potential omicron cases for sequencing. It looks for segments of three viral genes, one of which is the gene that encodes for the Omicron Covid-19 variant. The mutations in the omicron gene prevent its detection during the test. This means that samples containing the variant will test positive for only two of the gene.
How the world is mitigating the spread of Omicron Covid -19 variant?
Countries like France have set out several restrictions to counter the spread of the Covid 19 Omicron variant. They have announced that they will close down nightclubs for four weeks. The French government also plans to heighten mask-wearing to further protect children who are still attending physical classes for their lessons. Measures like this are supposed to make sure that the citizens are safe while at the same time able to proceed with normal human activities that are beneficial to the economy.
Are there available treatments that work against the omicron Covid-19 variant?
Researchers, scientists, and other stakeholders in the medical field are working to determine whether the available treatments for Covid-19 can work on the Omicron Covid-19 variant. This is proving a little harder to do because the variant has a different genetic makeup which might prove less effective against it.