THE PANDEMIC RAGES AS THE OMICRON (COVID19) VARIANT ENTERS THE SCENE
– Vaccine may be our best option
The Covid19 pandemic is not over, though I wish it was. It is still ravaging and people are dying daily in large numbers. While people cannot wait to get back to their regular lives, they need to be conscious of the fact that what it takes is being exposed to a person who has the virus. Many people have caught it with little or no symptoms. Many others got it and died even with a fight. At this time, taking the vaccine is the best available option, in addition to wearing a mask. There has been an unbelievable increase in misinformation all around the globe fueling anti vaccine sentiments. There has also been outright disinformation which spreads falsehood that incentivizes pandemic denial. False information is pushed out by people who may have one ulterior motive or another, so people must be careful what they believe.
The negative implication of continuing to deny the existence of the Covid19 pandemic, and the recalcitrance to taking the vaccine, is that more people get exposed to the virus and it keeps spreading faster. An increase in the number of cases puts more strain on healthcare resources, which leads to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths. The longer we allow a variant of Covid19 virus to stay in circulation, the more it toughens up. This is what got the world to the Delta variant, and the latest variant of concern, Omicron. I picked the below details of the latest variant from the CDC website.
Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some variants emerge and disappear while others persist. New variants will continue to emerge. CDC and other public health organizations monitor all variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the United States and globally.
On November 24, 2021, a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.529, was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). This new variant was first detected in specimens collected on November 11, 2021 in Botswana and on November 14, 2021 in South Africa.
On November 26, 2021, WHO named the B.1.1.529 Omicron and classified it as a Variant of Concern (VOC). On November 30, 2021, the United States designated Omicron as a Variant of Concern, and on December 1, 2021 the first confirmed U.S. case of Omicron was identified.
CDC has been collaborating with global public health and industry partners to learn about Omicron, as we continue to monitor its course. CDC has been using genomic surveillance
throughout the course of the pandemic to track variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and inform public health practice. We don’t yet know how easily it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, or how well available vaccines and medications work against it.
Despite the increased attention of Omicron, Delta continues to be the main variant circulating in the United States.
Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Scientists are currently investigating Omicron, including how protected fully vaccinated people will be against infection, hospitalization, and death. CDC recommends that everyone 5 years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated. CDC recommends that everyone ages 18 years and older should get a booster shot at least two months after their initial J&J/Janssen vaccine or six months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
Omicron Infection and Spreada
- How easily does Omicron spread? The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
- Will Omicron cause more severe illness? More data are needed to know if Omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.
- Will vaccines work against Omicron? Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.
- Will treatments work against Omicron? Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Based on the changed genetic make-up of Omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.