Omicron: the new Covid-19 Variant truthful you should know

Omicron Variant sounds like the apocalypse. The WHO decided to name the different variants following the Greek alphabet: Alpha: B.1.1.7; Beta: B.1.351; Gamma: P.1; Delta: B.1.617.2; Epsilon: B.1.427/B.1.429; Zeta: P.2; Eta: B.1.525; Theta: P.3; Iota: B.1.526; Kappa: B.1.617.1; Lambda: C.37; Mu: B.1.621.

omicron variant following greek alphabets

The next on the list had to be Nu, but since it sounded like New , they decided to move on to the next one, Xi. But it turns out that the Chinese president is called Xi JinPing and it is better not to touch his nose.

The next letter of the alphabet was Omicron. That is why the new variant B.1.1.529 is called Omicron. And with Omicron variant came chaos. In times of widespread pandemic fatigue it is essential to remember that fear in communication does not usually work. We have verified it with climate change: catastrophic messages end up boring and many people disconnect, as in the children’s story of Pedro and the wolf.

Once again, with Omicron it is time for rigor, transparency (saying what is known and what is not known) and, above all, proposing solutions.

Is Omicron Variant much more transmissible?

Since it was detected a few weeks ago, the variant has been spreading very intensely in many countries. It seems that its growth is skyrocketing, it is exponential, and that in a few weeks it will displace the Delta variant, until now dominant. However, although it is still too early to tell, some data suggest that this high incidence is not leading to higher mortality.

There are still contradictory data on this and it is difficult to know what will happen. The level of uncertainty remains very high.

A collapse in the health system

hospital as part of health system
Modern empty temporary intensive care emergency room is ready to receive patients with coronavirus infection.

It was undeniable that hospital occupancy ratio, ICU admissions and deaths occur with a rise these few weeks.

The problem is there are more transmissible variant, even if it only with milder symptoms, doesn’t mean that there will be fewer deaths. If it rises at such a high speed, which means there are a lot cases in a very short time, there may be more victims.

An intense and rapid sixth wave in the number of cases will generate a collapse in the health system, something that we have already seen has very serious consequences. International health agencies describe the situation as very high risk. For this reason, some affirm that “we must prepare for the worst”.

We do not know if it is more serious, but we do not know if it will be milder either.

Although the number of hospitalizations remains low, there is no evidence that Omicron is less virulent than the Delta variant.

Compared to other variants, preliminary results suggest that Omicron multiplies 70 times faster in human bronchi, which could explain why this variant can be transmitted faster.

However, the same study shows that Omicron infection in the lung is significantly lower than with the original SARS-CoV-2. This could perhaps explain why it produces less severity of the disease.

super immune individuals

Other work suggests that sera from vaccinated individuals neutralized the Omicron variant to a much lower level than any other variant. However, in the same work they also point out that sera from super immune individuals (those who had been infected and vaccinated or vice versa) were able to neutralize this omicron variant.

Antibodies prevent infection, so this partial escape from the immune response (antibodies) could also influence its greater transmissibility.

Against Omicron, or against any other even more dangerous variant, what we have to do is remember what we already know and do it: vaccines, masks, ventilation, distance, antigen tests, self-confinement, health reinforcement.

Vaccines work for omicron variant? of course they work

With With the present occurrence, if we got caught in the sixth wave without vaccinating, this would be a real decimation. We already saw this with the fifth wave, in which the number of cases increased (so Delta, which was more transmissible, was dominant) but was not reflected in an increase in deaths as in previous waves. One thing that makes difference is that most of vulnerable elder people were already vaccinated. Hopefully something similar happens now. We will know n three or four weeks.

The situation is very delicate. Let’s be responsible and take care of ourselves.

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