Opinion: We need to be ready for Omicron, but let’s not assume the worst

- Advertisement -


Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lack of patience and calmness.

- Advertisement -

But a harsh, nuanced response is needed as we digest the unwanted news that yet another version – b.1.1.1.529, or Omicron – has been unleashed upon the world.

The World Health Organization has warned that Omicron poses a “very high risk” of promoting a dangerous and uncertain pandemic, but its real impact remains to be seen,

advertisement

In other words, we need to be prepared for the worst, but not assume the worst.

This is a significant difference at a time when we really know very little about the latest COVID-19 version and speculations are rife.

- Advertisement -

We do not yet know whether Omicron is more transmitted, or causes more severe disease, or is more likely to cause re-infection, or whether its mutation will result in vaccines being less effective.

It will take a few weeks of careful monitoring, advanced genomic sequencing and epidemiological studies to learn how significant this latest pandemic curveball will prove to be.

Are the new COVID-19 pills a pandemic game-changer?

Children’s voices deserve to be heard during COVID-19. let’s not forget them

What we do know, however, is that prevention is key, and that public-health measures such as vaccination, good ventilation, masking, physical distancing and limiting crowd sizes are still effective ways to slow the spread. There are effective methods. Virus manifests itself in any form.

Travel restrictions also have their place, but we have to use them tactfully. Banning travelers from certain countries or regions is not in effect. What may slow the spread of the coronavirus (including the Omicron version) is mandatory vaccination and testing for travelers, regardless of the passport they hold.

The current approach – closing borders to citizens of southern African countries – would only discourage countries from reporting the new forms. South Africa and its neighbors should not be penalized for the excellent infectious-disease surveillance that has given the world a head start in its response.

Despite its ominous nickname—Omicron, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, sounds like the name of a bad guy in a superhero movie—it’s not a given that the latest version will be dramatically worse than the previous one, nor will it be Delta. Will replace the now-major version.

The reason Omicron scientists are concerned is a “Frankenstein mix” of mutations. Viruses mutate, but usually do so very slowly. The new variant has raised alarm bells as it has 32 mutations on the spike protein alone. The spike protein is what coronaviruses use to enter human cells, raising fears (at least theoretically) that omicrons can spread more easily and bypass immune protection from both infection and vaccination. could.

But none of this is clear yet.

There are even early signs that symptoms may actually be less severe in people infected with the Omicron variant. There doesn’t appear to be an increase in hospitalizations or deaths, but those are backward indicators, so we’ll have to keep a close eye. We know that PCR testing can still detect the new variant and that some treatments appear to be effective.

We still don’t have enough information to answer this important question, “Is Omicron more permeable?” South Africa’s Gauteng province, where the new version seems to be common, has recently seen a huge increase in infections. But there could be many reasons for that jump.

More worryingly, many of those infected with the Omicron variant have been ill before and have recovered from COVID-19. This suggests that the new variant may have escaped certain antibodies and re-infected. This, in turn, raises questions about the effectiveness of vaccines.

The good news here is that mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, which target the spike protein, can be modified relatively easily.

till now, Five forms of anxiety have been identified: alpha, beta, delta, gamma and now omicron, all with varying degrees of influence.

We have to learn a few more letters of the Greek alphabet before the pandemic is over. The more COVID-19 spreads, the more likely the mutation is to occur.

Above all, the emergence of Omicron should make vaccination more urgent in the world.

More than half of the world’s population has been vaccinated. In wealthy countries such as Canada, an average of 158 doses are given per 100 people; In low income countries That number is seven for every 100.

The biggest pandemic challenge isn’t new versions like Omicron. This vaccine is ending apartheid so these new threats have stopped emerging.

Keep your opinion sharp and informed. Receive the Opinion newsletter. ,

,

- Advertisement -
Mail Us For  DMCA / Credit  Notice

Recent Articles

Stay on top - Get the daily news in your inbox

Related Stories