Explained: The Omicron Variant of Coronavirus
Stressing the need for a second dose to blunt the new Omicron variant that is creating havoc in South Africa and Eastern Europe, Karnataka's leading cardiologist Dr CN Manjunath warns that the nature of this new mutant virus is that it spreads like wildfire.
As the country is hit by a new fear called Omicron variant which is spreading like wildfire in African countries like South Africa, Botswana and also easter Europe like Hungary and other places, Dr CN Manjunath, a renowned cardiologist spoke to Asianet Newsable and said that the new variant is more mutant than the previous one like Alpha and Delta variant.
As there is growing concern, in a Q&A session with Newsable, he revealed about the variant's origin, places it is creating havoc, about its cascading impact, the role of vaccination and others.
What is the origin of the new variant?
It is a new form of variant. Earlier there were Alpha, Beta and Delta variants. As per virologists, this new variant Omicron is a highly mutant and transmission is rapid.
How many countries has it been found?
It is predominantly found in African countries and eastern Europe. Most of the people here are not vaccinated. Had people got vaccinated, the chance of transmission would have been less and its mutation also would have been contained.
In India as far as the second dose is concerned, it is not satisfactory and people should come forward to get vaccinated. People eligible should get vaccinated and can avoid complications. Only 55 per cent have received the second dose. Only if the vaccination of the second dose reaches 85 per cent, it will be a good thing.
How is it more lethal than the Delta variant?
It is too early to say on the impact of its (Omicron virus) leather compilation because the present data regarding this which India has is very small. So the only way to get protection is to get the vaccination.
Are vaccines effective against the new variant?
If not full, some protection will always be there. To what extent it will have an impact in the future, one has to study regarding that, but at the moment it will offer a great amount of protection against the virus.
As predicted, the virus is evolving. What next?
We don't know when it will stop because the way things are going, it is very difficult to predict. It may be 2 years and 4 years. If more people get vaccinated across the world, we can stop this. In eastern Europe, the vaccination rate is very low. In places like Hungary, Germany, Russia and other places and that is the reason we see more cases here.
The only way to stop this is rapid vaccination, avoid any event like the new year and other festival gatherings. Whatever rules were there like last year (banning of new year gathering) and taking extra precautions as there is a spike in cases in colleges and hostels.
Who is more prone or what category of the population is more vulnerable?
The people who have comorbid conditions like, diabetes, BP, heart complications and people who have compromised immune systems like HIV positive, people under chemotherapy all need to be careful and if not vaccinated with a second dose, they must get it as early as possible as this will offer some protection.