Omicron: Facts, Effects & Severity

Dec 17, 2021

Omicron is 4.2 times more transmissible than Delta and, as of today, has been detected in 63 countries in the world. The first case of Omicron was reported in South Africa on November 14. And, by November 26, WHO announced it as a concern.

We connected with Dr. Adrita Banerjee (MBBS, MD Medicine), Stroke Specialist to understand what Omicron is, its effects, concerns and the efficiency of our vaccination.  

What is Omicron

Omicron is a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as Coronavirus. And WHO announced this as a concern just a few weeks ago due to its transmissibility. It is considered to be the most contagious variant till date and has got the top officials concerned worldwide. Experts predict that it will surpass Delta in the race of transmission and based on their findings, they are not very worried in case of severity and symptoms.

Omicron is spreading fast and has forced many countries to implement travel restrictions once again. We’re in the last month of the year. That means winter, Christmas and New Year! However, we need to be alert and stay safe during these times and maintain caution during this festive season.

3 Reasons why Omicron is a concern

Based on the data provided to the Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE), at WHO, this variant is a concern due to three reasons:

  • Number of mutations
  • Speed of spreading
  • The effect of vaccination 

WHO has reported that Omicron has multiple mutations that are transmitting fast but only some of them are quite severe. Even though early observations showed that the patients did not need oxygen or intensive treatment, experts and WHO officials have urged caution. Many re-infection cases have been found along with young people being infected with no significant risk factors. The widespread fear is that Omicron will lead to a new surge in infections and add to the hospital burden.

As studies on this new variant are underway, it cannot be said if the vaccinations are effective or not. The lack of enough evidence is also a cause of delay in the reports.

Currently, India has 87 cases of Omicron with states recording fresh infections on a daily basis. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal are the states that have reported Omicron cases.

What we know about Omicron 

Medical professionals and experts are conducting studies to better understand the various aspects of Omicron but as of now these are the details we know:

  • Transmission: The second wave of COVID was due to the Delta variant. But Omicron transmits faster than that and we’re currently seeing the numbers shoot up rapidly. Epidemiologists in South Africa are studying whether the rise in cases is due to Omicron or other factors.
  • Severity: Experts are investigating the variant B.1.1.529, Omicron and comparing it to the previous variants to understand it better. Based on South Africa’s initial investigation, we get to know that people are getting hospitalized in huge numbers but there’s a possibility that this isn’t due to Omicron. And based on the other cases found globally, it is said that Omicron cases aren’t severe but mild. However, since the numbers aren’t high enough, it would be too soon to claim so.
  • Symptoms: Patients infected with Omicron have shown the same symptoms as the other variants. The cases were mild but unlike other variants, this variant has been infecting quite a lot of young people as well. To completely understand how Omicron is affecting our body, will take some time as experts are doing their research.

In case you experience any of the COVID symptoms, you must connect with your doctor at the earliest. 

How effective are vaccinations?

This is probably the most asked question in today’s time. As per the initial reports, those who have had COVID are at a higher risk of Omicron infection. Studies are underway to understand how effective our vaccinations are, against Omicron. 

Diagnosis: RT-PCR is still one of the recommended tests to detect the variant for COVID.

Treatment: The treatment for Omicron is the same as that for previous variants. Corticosteroids and IL6 receptor blockers are used to treat severe COVID-19 cases.


6 Precautions to avoid Omicron

It is imperative to continue taking strict precautions at all times. Like: 

  • Social distancing
  • Always wearing a mask
  • Avoid crowded places and stay in well ventilated areas
  • Keep your hands clean and wash them regularly
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue 
  • Ensure you are vaccinated 

Coronavirus attacks our immune system and weakens the body. Thus, it is important that we work on building and strengthening the immune system. We must eat more leafy vegetables, include dry fruits in our daily habits and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Immunity boosters are a good way to keep your immunity in check. Ashwagandha tablets, vitamin C tablets, etc are quite beneficial for the immune system.

In case you feel any symptoms or have queries regarding Omicron, do consult top doctors on the Dhani app. With Dhani doctor, you can video consult any of our doctors in just 10 seconds who will be able to help you 24x7 with your health concerns. Download today to try free consultations for 30 days.

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