Omicron is a pressing menace that the world is facing. The legacy of Coronavirus refuses to give a halt to the pandemic. On the 26th of November, 2021 the World Health Organisation announced the classification of a new variant B.1.1. 529. The same day, the variant was named Omicron.
Within no time, the variant has marked its dominance in the United States of America. The variant has proved to be highly contagious which has resulted in the hyper spread of the virus in the country. However, early data reflect the fact that Omicron is less severe than its predecessors including the Delta variant.
Does that boil down to omicron being less dangerous than the delta virus? Where records from hospitals suggest that the Omicron is inferior in severity to the Delta, health experts plead not to take the new variant lightly.
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What is a Variant?
A variant is a term that is interchangeably used for a mutant, strain of a virus. There is a fundamental property of a virus and that is to multiply or make copies of itself. In the process of making copies of itself the virus undergoes slight differences.
In the process of change, when the virus undergoes changes in the genetic makeup it becomes a Variant. The process of change is called Mutation. The term Strain too is interchangeably used with Variant. However, strain is different from a variant. The strain has completely divergent functional properties than the host virus. When this variant is established in the population it is called a Strain.
Omicron and Delta are the two variants of the host Coronavirus. Both the variants though hail from the same family of the virus has points of difference.
Comparing Omicron Vs Delta on Severity
According to studies across the world it has been found that Omicron is less severe than the Delta virus. However, the same studies warn on the highly contagious and immune-evading properties of the variant.
The fact that the variant spreads leaps and bounds can diminish the fact that it is less severe. The graph of patients going up and the hospital beds filling up will create the horrors with this variant just like the precessors. Omicron Vs Delta can be a war with no results. Both the variants differ in their point of infliction on society.
The first step towards protection against COVID-19 started with vaccination. However, the Delta variant diminished the effectiveness of the same. It is being speculated that Omicron will further add to the decreasing effectiveness of the vaccine. However, the vaccine still remains the pillar of protection against severe disease and hospitalization. It is for this reason that Booster Doses have been recommended by medical professionals.
The unvaccinated population remains vulnerable to the threat of death from the new variant. The CDC covid tracker points out that unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 variants than the vaccinated population.
Do Omicron and Delta Differ in Symptoms?
Omicron symptoms differ mildly from the other COVID-19 variants. The symptoms include a running nose, headache, and an itchy throat. Only a small number of the infected population experienced loss of the sense of smell.
Delta virus symptoms too show a phase of change from the host coronavirus symptoms. Loss of the sense of smell, vomiting, coughing, and diarrhoea is not the prime indication. It is indicated by a runny nose, fever, and headache. In the recent past, these have been the most common symptoms of the delta.
Precautions for Omicron Variant Spread
“Precaution is better than cure” is the right statement to be followed at the moment. What can we as people do to fight the spread of the Omicron variant? Take the following precautions to help save your near and dear ones( ultimately the society) from the menace of the virus:
Masking and Sanitizing
To help contain the community spread it is advised to wear masks in presence of people. Avoid going out to crowded places and stay at home as much as possible. Take a note of the type of mask you use, and make sure it is capable of protecting you against the virus.
Washing and sanitizing your hands regularly is advisable. Hands become the first point of contact with our surroundings and then our faces. It is important to keep them sanitized.
At the moment vaccine is the major and the most trusted measure to put up a fight against the virus. Get yourself fully vaccinated if you are not. Booster doses too may come into the picture soon. Those under the age of 18 too must be vaccinated to have the best results of containing community spread.
With the right testing, the track of Omicron can be detected very easily. PCR tests have proved to be effective when it comes to detecting the variant. Omicron should not be taken lightly or considered to be inferior to the Delta variant. Omicron in the preliminary studies has shown to be much more contagious than the previous variants. Every possible precaution should be adopted to restrict the virus and testing must be increased to avoid any risk of another blow to mankind.