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Omicron: The New Covid-19 Variant4 min read


Several coronavirus variations have arisen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as the virus, SARS-CoV-2, continues to change and adapt. The alterations in many of these variants have little or no effect on how the virus affects humans. However, some factors, such as genetic modifications in the delta variant, can make the coronavirus more contagious) then the original SARS-CoV-2 found in late 2019.

Viruses are continually changing due to mutations, and new variations of a virus are likely to emerge throughout time as a result of these changes. During this pandemic, multiple versions of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been identified in the United States and around the world. Occasionally, new varieties appear and then vanish. New varieties occur from time to time that is easier to spread from one person to another.

Scientists give variants names so that they can communicate with one another about trends they’ve noticed with specific viral lineages. These names can be quite technical and particular, and they perform well in scientific writing. A group of scientists and communications experts gathered in May 2021 to debate the names we use when speaking about particular variants with non-scientific audiences. They devised a naming system based on Greek Alphabet letters (such as Alpha, Beta, and Gamma), which are thought to be simpler to say and less stigmatizing than when a variety is referred to by the country in which it was discovered. 

The World Health Organization dubbed omicron after a version of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that emerged in November 2021. (WHO). The omicron is currently listed as a variation of concern by the World Health Organization. Experts in SARS-CoV-2, Stuart Ray, M.D., vice chair of medicine for data integrity and analytics, and Robert Bollinger, M.D., M.P.H., Raj and Kamla Gupta Professor of Infectious Diseases, answer your questions on the omicron coronavirus variety.

Scientists are only now learning about omicron because of its recent development, but the vigorous study is swiftly revealing more information about this variant and how its genetic modifications may affect its propagation and the people who are infected with it. The following few weeks, according to Bollinger and Ray, will bring even more clarity and answer certain questions.

Here is what you need to know about Omicron the new Covid 19 Variants:

Is omicron more contagious (transmissible)?

“There is some preliminary evidence suggesting the omicron variant is more infectious than the delta variant,” says Bollinger. “But there is no evidence so far that the standard prevention strategies, including vaccination, masking, distancing, ventilation and hand-washing are not effective in reducing the risk of infection or transmission.”

Is omicron linked to a more severe COVID-19 infection?

“For omicron, there are very limited data on this,” Bollinger says. “But, so far, the answer appears to be no.  We will know more about this in the coming weeks.”

Are COVID vaccines still effective in reducing the risk of serious illness?

According to Bollinger and Ray, this is the most crucial question, and there is still a lot of unknown information due to the lack of data.

“My own expectation is that being fully vaccinated, including boosters, will still provide a reduced risk of hospitalization and death,” Bollinger says. “In the weeks ahead, we will learn more about how well the antibodies induced by the current vaccinations can neutralize the omicron variant in the laboratory. If they can, that will be good news.

“I am also confident that if we find that the current vaccines are not providing optimal protection against severe disease or death due to this variant, we will be able to quickly modify the current vaccines to address omicron.”

Do COVID tests reveal the omicron variant?

The omicron variant appears to be detectable using commercial diagnostic PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and antigen COVID tests. In the next weeks, we’ll learn more about how successfully the speedy at-home tests detect the new variety.

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