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Omicron variant: Everything we know about the Omicron variant (so far)

The emergence of the new COVID variant Omicron has not only raised alarms all across the globe, but its unpredictability and the lack of evidence around it has lead to a chaotic turn of events.

On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated Omicron as the latest” worrying variant” of COVID-19 (coronavirus), following its recent outbreak in South Africa.

The variant, first detected in South Africa, has now been declared a “variant of concern,” which means that it contains genetic changes that may affect transmissibility, severity of the disease or how it responds to the antibodies triggered by the vaccines.

So far, there isn’t much research on Omicron, but the WHO says studies are underway to assess “transmissibility, severity of infection (including symptoms), performance of vaccines and diagnostic tests, and efficacy. of the treatments “of the variant.

To understand what could happen to Omicron, let’s look at Delta, another variant of COVID-19 that is cause for concern and that peaked during the summer, causing ” advanced infections ” in those vaccinated and more hospitalizations among the unvaccinated. For context, there are 130 known subtypes of just one of the four types of flu viruses.

What is the Omicron Variant?

Like the Delta variant, Omicron is a different strain of the coronavirus that causes SARS-CoV-2. There are still other variants that do not meet the criteria to be considered worrisome variants, which is typical of how viruses behave and evolve in the real world.

Officially, Omicron is called “variant B.1.1.529″. It has a ” large number of mutations, some of which are worrisome, ” according to the WHO. Early research shows that this strain may pose an increased risk of reinfection.

Where does the Omicron variant come from?

Scientists first identified Omicron in South Africa, where researchers and doctors reported it to the WHO for study and action. The first cases occurred among university students and appear to be relatively mild; However, this may be because young, healthy adults are more likely to experience mild cases of COVID-19. More studies are needed to understand the severity of the variant.

Do vaccines against the Omicron variant work?

There is no specific information about Omicron and vaccines yet, but the WHO says vaccines remain a critical part of the toolkit against the current most prevalent variant, Delta. The vaccine remains the best weapon to avoid hospitalization and death from any COVID-19 infection.

How contagious is the Omicron variant?

There is no conclusive evidence yet that Omicron is more transmissible than Delta, but the strain has a “record” number of mutations, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins told Fox News Sunday .

The number of positive tests in South Africa, where Omicron was first reported, is high. But it is unclear how many of these cases are due to Omicron, in particular, and the WHO is awaiting the results of specific studies to help answer questions about how contagious Omicron is.

How bad is the Omicron variant?

The first reported cases of Omicron come from college students, who typically have milder COVID-19 symptoms than other populations. There is some indication that hospitalizations have increased in South Africa, where Omicron was first identified. The WHO stresses that this could be due to the higher rates of all SARS-CoV-2 variants, not just Omicron. More studies are needed.

Will the Omicron variant make you sick?

The WHO currently reports that Omicron is not known to be more severe than other variants. That said, the most effective treatments and preventions, from the vaccine to corticosteroids, are still patients’ best bet to keep their COVID-19 (coronavirus) infections as mild as possible.

What’s the last we know about the Omicron variant?

In the coming days and weeks, we should know more about Omicron and have the results of preliminary studies conducted by the WHO and by renowned universities and research organizations. As part of its efforts, the WHO is also calling on the world’s government health groups to intensify their surveillance of positive COVID-19 cases using genomic signature testing to ensure that Omicron cases are properly documented. . These data, collected over time, will help everyone identify the symptoms and severity of Omicron compared to the other variants.

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