Omicron Sub-variants: What we need to know?

Microscopic picture of SARS virusNovel Coronavirus (Covid-19)

In the third year of COVID-19 pandemic, Omicron has been paralysing the studies of scientists on SARS-Cov-2 variants because the rate at which the Omicron variant evolving is surprisingly faster as compared to other variants.

The new variant of COVID-19, Omicron was first detected in November last year in Botswana and in South Africa. Later, it was reported to World Health Organization (WHO) which classified it as a Variant of Concern (VOC). Now, Omicron has spread to various European countries and in Asian countries.

The WHO, in a statement said, “The Omicron variant of concern is currently the dominant variant circulating globally, accounting for nearly all sequences reported to GISAID (an open access database).”

However, two sub-variants of Omicron named as BA.1 and BA.2 are now a new concern as they both can be deadly since they both spread rapidly and are highly transmissible. While BA.1 remains the most prevalent variant of concern in several countries, including the US and Britain, cases of BA.2 are rising in India, China, and Denmark.

On Tuesday, Maria Van Kerkhove, a senior WHO official, said that no difference in disease severity from BA.1 compared to BA.2 has been established.

“So this is a similar level of severity as it relates to risk of hospitalisation. And this is really important, because in many countries they’ve had a substantial amount of circulation, both of BA.1 and BA.2,” she said.

Symptoms:

The symptoms in a person infected with the Omicron variant can be similar to symptoms of previous variants. These symptoms include Sore or scratchy throat, Runny nose or Congestion, Headache, Fatigue, Night sweats, Body aches.

Level of Severity:

The Omicron variant spreads more easily than other Coronavirus variants such as  the Delta variant. The presence and severity of symptoms can be affected by COVID-19 vaccination status, the presence of other health conditions, age, and history of prior infection. Therefore, the overall risk related to this new variant remains very high.

According to preliminary data of  Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggest that Omicron may cause more mild disease, although small percentage of people may still have severe disease and need hospitalization. However, containment  of this new variant could put more pressure on healthcare system.

Effectiveness of COVID-19  vaccines against Omicron variant:

Scientists are still conducting their researches and learning how effective COVID-19 vaccines are at preventing infection from Omicron. However, the current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. Therefore, you must get your complete COVID-19  vaccine doses as soon as possible.

How you can be protect yourself and your family from COVID-19?

The practice of wearing masks and washing your hands frequently can help you and your family to fight against the COVID-19 infections. You can wear either three layered fabric masks or medical masks while visiting public places. The WHO recommends three layered fabric masks.

How to wear a mask?

Since you may sometimes find difficult to wash hands, so instead you can use sanitizer consisting more 70% of alcohol to disinfect your hands, your devices or other things that you are carrying. For eatables, like vegetables and fruits, don’t wash it with soaps or sanitizers since it can be harmful, so instead wash them thoroughly with warm water.

And always remember to be consistent with all the precautions that are necessary  to avoid COVID-19 infections.

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