What is Omicron ?
Omicron (another name B.1.1.529) is a variant of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus – 2, the virus that results in COVID-19. On 24th November 2021, The Omicron coronavirus was first reported from South Africa to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) declared it as a ‘Variant of Concern’ (VOC) on 26th November 2021 under the name “Omicron”, the fifteenth letter in the Greek alphabet. The only other variant to be designated as the Variant of Concern by the WHO is the Delta variant.
The Omicron variant has been reported from 77 nations, permeating at an unprecedented rate not witnessed previously with any other variant, and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyeus warned that countries should not presume it’s mild. Even though individuals feel milder symptoms from the Omicron variant, the sharp ascent in the number of Omicron cases could overpower the already weakened health systems by the previous Covid waves.
Researches are indicating that in the early stages, Omicron is 4.2 times more contagious than the Delta variant. Another preliminary research says that the omicron variant escalates around 70 times quicker in the human respiratory tract tissues than the Delta variant. Additionally, the Omicron variant touches higher levels in the respiratory tissue in merely 48 hours after infection, when compared to the Delta variant. Even though Omicron causes milder symptoms than Delta, it can infect much more people in a smaller amount of time, and therefore if timely measures are not taken, Omicron can be the reason for the third Covid wave across the globe.
Omicron Variant Symptoms
The top Omicron Variant symptoms are:
- Scratchy/Sore Throat
- Night Sweats
- Muscle Aches
- Fatigue (either mild or severe)
- Runny Nose/Sneezing
After the confirmation of infection with the Omicron variant, the WHO has instructed every single person and country to follow all the Covid related SOPs (Standard Operating Protocols).
Are elders more vulnerable to the Omicron variant?
The COVID-19 crisis is affecting the world population adversely. Individuals of all age groups are at the risk of getting infected by the COVID-19 virus. Older individuals the world over are facing the most challenges and threats during this pandemic because of the result of physiological changes that happen with aging and the potential underlying health conditions that accompany old age. Particularly elders with pre-existing ailments such as chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer are most susceptible to getting severely ill with the virus.
Precautions for elders during the pandemic
A crucial part of a nation’s comprehensive response to the Covid pandemic is elderly support through their caregivers & families. During quarantine & isolation periods, elders need safe access to healthy nutritious food, basic daily supplies, medicine, and regular health monitoring to support their physical health and social care as well as support for their emotional/psychological health.
Circulating accurate information is necessary in ensuring that elders have clear insight and resources on staying physically and mentally healthy during the pandemic and steps to take in case they fall ill.
If you’re an elder, how to safeguard yourself from the Omicron menace
Most of the advice is the same for one and all, however, it’s extremely critical for the elders to follow it to the hilt as they are maximum at risk. The main points are:
Getting tested is the initial step if ever the Omicron symptoms show or someone in close contact got infected. That said why risk it if you can prevent it, after 3-4 months this Omicron threat will get over or will be easily manageable (various reports suggest about Omicron peaking in Feb). Thereupon maintain social distancing of at least one meter (no hugs, no handshakes), don’t receive any visitors unless extremely necessary, wear the face masks regularly (only standard N95 respirator masks, no colourful fashion accessories in the name of cloth masks), avoid meeting people personally especially at social gatherings (and please avoid children contact as they can be asymptomatic carriers), use neighborhood shop for groceries & medication refills, wash hands regularly and place on hold all unnecessary travel plans for now.
The Omicron Coronavirus variant is spreading like wildfire all over the world. Covid Tests conducted at IGI airport (New Delhi) showed that one in every five travelers is testing positive with the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus. We also understand that everything about the Omicron is highly unpredictable and under speculation, both in terms of virulence, and severity. For staying safe follow all the Covid related protocols, it’s absolutely vital to get the two Covid shots, and please watch out for the booster doses whenever they become available.
Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director AIIMS (Delhi) stated that Omicron is a “more transmissible variant” He further added that “We need to do two things to protect ourselves, first one is to take vaccines and the second is to follow Covid appropriate behavior”.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is COVID-19 variant Omicron worse than the Delta variant?
A lot about Omicron is under speculation and research right now. It certainly spreads faster than Delta and some experts are warning against acquitting the omicron variant as merely a milder version than other variants as yet. So please take the Covid vaccines & follow the necessary SOP’s.
Is Omicron less lethal?
A prominent epidemiologist Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan said “Omicron variant is likely to be less lethal in India than the delta-led virus wave that overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums earlier this year”
Why is the COVID-19 variant Omicron concerning?
As per the limited evidence on Omicron, it looks like Omicron spreads faster than the Delta variant which can overwhelm the health systems the world over.
Is the omicron variant more dangerous to the elderly?
Older individuals across the globe are bearing the worst brunt of the Coronavirus pandemic because of the physiological changes that aging brings and the potential underlying health conditions that accompany old age. It’s absolutely necessary for Elders to get their Covid shots, take booster dozes (whenever they’re available), and follow all Covid SOP’s
Does the Omicron variant of COVID-19 cause severe illness?
More data is needed to confirm if Omicron infections and re-infections in fully vaccinated citizenry result in more severe illness or death than getting infected with other Coronavirus variants.
Is the South African variant of Covid-19 more deadly?
Researchers & epidemiologists in the United Kingdom are increasingly enthused that the Omicron variant is milder than the previous Delta mutation, and possibly the least lethal strain so far, hence corroborating earlier opinions in South Africa.