Omicron to convey third wave of COVID-19? Govt solutions all questions on new variant

The worry of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 rising internationally because the new variant has been confirmed in over 30 nations now,. This variant was first recognized by scientists in South Africa and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has put it within the listing of ‘Variants of Concern’. On Thursday, the Union Health Ministry knowledgeable that two cases of the doubtless extra dangerous coronavirus pressure had been detected in Karnataka.

To allay the fears, the government has now issued a doc answering a lot of the questions being requested on Omicron. Through the doc, the government plans to supply extra readability about this variant.

The doc clarifies that while there is no such thing as a proof to recommend that current vaccines don’t work on the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, among the mutations reported might lower the efficacy of the jabs. It, nonetheless, underscored that definitive proof for new variant’s elevated remission and immune evasion is awaited.

The ministry has issued a listing of incessantly requested questions (FAQs) concerning the Omicron variant of coronavirus which has been designated by WHO as a ‘variant of concern’ (VoC). Two cases of the new variant had been reported in Karnataka on Thursday.

On the potential for a 3rd wave of COVID-19, the ministry mentioned given its traits, it’s prone to unfold to extra nations, together with India, however given the quick tempo of vaccination in India and excessive publicity to delta variant as evidenced by excessive seropositivity, the severity of the illness is anticipated to be low.

Omicron cases are more and more being reported from nations outdoors of South Africa and given its traits, it’s prone to unfold to extra nations, together with India, the ministry mentioned.

“However, the size and magnitude of the rise in cases and the severity of the illness are nonetheless not clear, it mentioned.

“Further, given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to delta variant as evidenced by high seropositivity, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low. However, scientific evidence is still evolving,” the ministry mentioned.

From the listing of FAQs, the ministry, answering as to whether the present vaccines work towards the Omicron variant, mentioned, “While, there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron, some of the mutations reported on spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines.”

However, vaccine safety can also be by antibodies in addition to by mobile immunity, which is predicted to be comparatively higher preserved. Hence, vaccines are anticipated to nonetheless supply safety towards extreme illness and vaccination is essential. If eligible one ought to get vaccinated, it mentioned.

To a query on can the at the moment used diagnostics strategies detect Omicron, it mentioned probably the most accepted and generally used technique of prognosis for SARS-CoV2 is the RT-PCR technique.

“This technique detects particular genes within the virus, corresponding to Spike (S), Enveloped (E) and Nucleocapsid (N) and so forth to verify the presence of the virus. However, within the case of Omicron, because the S gene is closely mutated, among the primers might result in outcomes indicating the absence of the S gene (referred to as S gene drop out).

“This particular S gene drop out along with the detection of other viral genes could be used as a diagnostic feature of Omicron. However, for final confirmation of the omicron variant genomic sequencing is required,” the ministry defined.

It additional mentioned the WHO declares a variant as VoC after the evaluation when there is a rise in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology or enhance in virulence or change in scientific illness presentation or lower within the effectiveness of public health and social measures or out there diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics.

“Omicron has been declared VoC based on the observed mutations, their predicted features of increased transmission and immune evasion and preliminary evidence of detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology such as increased reinfections. The definitive evidence for increased remission and immune evasion is awaited,” the ministry mentioned.

It careworn that the precautions and steps to be taken stay the identical as earlier than.

“It’s essential to mask yourself properly, take both doses of vaccines (if not yet vaccinated), maintain social distancing and maintain good ventilation to the maximum possible.”

The Indian government is monitoring the state of affairs carefully and is issuing appropriate pointers on occasion. The scientific and medical neighborhood is equipped for creating and deploying diagnostics, finishing up genomic surveillance, producing proof about viral and epidemiologic traits, and improvement of therapeutics, it mentioned.

The ministry mentioned variants are a traditional a part of evolution and so long as the virus can infect, replicate and transmit, they will proceed to evolve.

“Further, not all variants are dangerous and most often than not, we don’t notice them. Only when they are more infectious or can reinfect people they gain prominence. The most important step to avoid the generation of variants is to reduce the number of infections,” it mentioned.

The new variant reported from South Africa on November 24 was referred to as B.1.1.529 or Omicron based mostly on Greek alphabets. It has proven a really massive variety of mutations, particularly greater than 30 on the viral spike protein which is the important thing goal of an immune response, the ministry mentioned.

Given the gathering of mutations in Omicron, which earlier individually have been related with elevated infectivity and/or immune evasion, and the sudden rise within the variety of positive cases in South Africa, the World Health Organization has declared Omicron a ‘variant of concern’, it added.

(With company inputs)

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