Is the Omicron variant more contagious?
South African scientists first discovered a new coronavirus variant, the Omicron variant. The discovery fired up some travel restrictions in some countries. While certain concerns are raised as to what might happen next in this pandemic.
Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it’s doesn’t have any confirmation yet. Whether the new Omicron variant is more contagious than the SARS CoV-2 variant. It also wasn’t clear if it can cause more severe sickness than the first coronavirus variants.
According to WHO, “Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa. But this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.”
But in another statement, the agency cited that primary evidence shows that the Omicron variant has a higher rate of reinfection.
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met today to review what is known about the #COVID19 variant B.1.1.529.
They advised WHO that it should be designated a Variant of Concern.
WHO has named it Omicron, in line with naming protocols https://t.co/bSbVas9yds pic.twitter.com/Gev1zIt1Ek
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 26, 2021
While WHO said they are still conducting further studies to understand the virus potential, they have also teamed up with technical advisers to gain more accurate data. They also added that it’s important to understand Omicron’s impact on existing safety measures including vaccines.
Although some scientists say that there’s nothing to fear about the Omicron variant, they also emphasize that there’s still plenty that needs to be monitored and studied. Whether it can cause severe disease or if it can be efficient against vaccines is still unknown.
Epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed told CNN, “While this is concerning, as WHO indicated, I do think that we have to step back and wait for the science on this.”
Omicron is not a 'South African variant', it's a variant that was spotted & reported by brilliant South African scientists so fast the world has a chance to get on top of it. Could have originated anywhere.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 27, 2021
As the Who added, “There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated are different from those from other variants.”
What the experts say
South African Advisory Committee on Covid-19 Salim Abdool Karim said, “It will be a couple of weeks until more answers are clear.”
Karim also answered when asked if Omicron is more transmissible. “The reality is we’ve only known about the virus for just over a week. So we don’t really have the kind of data required to answer those questions definitively.”
If there’s one piece of good news, PCR tests can detect infection with the Omicron variant. Studies are still continuing to determine if it has the same effect on rapid antigen detection tests.
Since studies on Omicron variant are still ongoing, people must be careful. They should not expect what the clinical situations will be. As it’s too early to see severe cases which may come a few weeks after.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci said that “US health officials will know in a week or two how fatal the Omicron cases are.”
Fauci also added, “They have a number of patients that they’re following in the medical facilities. They assured us that they would know probably in a matter of a week, a week and a half. Whether or not we’re dealing with something that, for the most part is more severe, equally as severe, or less severe. It could be either of them.”