Omicron is a new name added to the queue of the COVID-19 variants list after Alpha, Delta, and Gamma variants. We all know that mutations are common in all viruses and are also well aware of the fact that till now Delta variant is very dangerous. So why the Global Governments are taking it up that much and is this a concern of being bold to this much extent? This is going to be addressed in this article.
What is Omicron?
The scientific name of this variant Omicron is B.1.1.529. This variant was discovered in a Country of Africa called Botswana. And the scientists of South Africa informed WHO on 24th November and till now it is found in many major countries, which determines that this variant is already spread out. The name of some countries are Australia, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, France, and many more countries are there in the count.
Classification of Variants and where omicorn stay?
On 26th November, WHO marked omicron as a “Variant of concern”.
World Health organization mark viruses on two poles one is “Variant of concern” and the other one is “Variant of Interest”.
Variants of Interest
Those mutations which lead to significant community transmission of COVID-19 are marked under Variant of Interest. This type of mutation affects the transmissibility or rigor of the virus and is also classified as potentially problematic. Till now there are two variants of Interest
- One is Lambda which was found in Peru country on December 2020 & was designated on 14-Jun-2021.
- The other one is Mu which was found in Colombia on January 2021 & was designated on 30-Aug-2021.
Variants of Concern
Those mutations in which we some changes like increase in transmissibility and virulence or change in clinical disease presentation are marked under Variants of concern. Variants of Concern also lead to a decrease in the effectiveness of public health or vaccines.
Before Omicron there were four variants of concern.
- The first one is alpha which was found in the United Kingdom in September 2020 and was designated on 18-Dec.-2020.
- Secound is Beta which was found in South Africa in May 2020 and was designated on 18-Dec-2020.
- Third is Gamma which was found in Brazil in November 2020 and was designated on 11-Jan-2021.
- Fourth is Delta which was found in India in october 2020 and was designated on 11-May-2021.
And out of all these, the Delta variant was most deadly and was the reason behind the second wave. Around the globe, more than 90% are because of this delta variant.
Will the Omicron be the next Delta?
Omicron Variant of coronavirus shows more than 50 Mutations. More than 30 mutations have been found in the Spike’s protein of this variant. If we compare it with Delta Variant, then there were only 9 mutations in the spike’s protein of the Delta variant. And this 9 to 32 seems to be a massive jump in the evolution of mutations.
Transmissibility of Omicron
In the recent updates of WHO on Omicron. It’s very hard to release a final statement on the transmissibility as they don’t have sufficient data yet since it has been discovered very recently.
What do the studies say?
In a recent study of South Africa, there was seen a notable increase in the test positivity rate within a week which was from 1% to 30%. And WHO also claims that the chance is, omicron will be more transmissible than that of Delta.
Delta variant was 60% more transmissible than alpha strain and the alpha strain was 50% more transmissible than the Wuhan strain. And according to disease modeling scientists, this Omicron mutation will be 500% more transmissible than the original Wuhan strain.
Is Omicron dangerous?
We can see a general trend in the mutation that the more will be the transmissibility, the less deadly the virus will be. Obviously, there can be an exception in the trend but generally, the given trend seems to be accurate.
We can see in the trend that the transmissibility in the Omicron virus is more than dealt and beta, as it touches a significant spike in such a short period.
According to many scientists, it will take about one or two weeks to understand the level of severity of the omicron variant and to determine how deadly the virus is. But the preliminary data suggest that the hospitalization rate in South Africa is increasing. This increase in rates can’t determine whether the omicron will be deadly or not. The transmissibility of omicron can be the reason for the increased rate of hospitalization in south Africa.
It can be possible that Omicron will not like Delta and there will be no third wave but it can also be possible that it will prove deadly. So it will be better to take all the preventions before it becomes worst and complete both doses of vaccines.