The world is still wrapping its head around the Delta Covid strain, so news of a new, potentially deadly, Omicron strain isn’t what people are ready to deal with.
When and where was it discovered?
On November 24, 2021, the first reports of a new Covid strain B.1.1.529, known as “Omicron”, came from authorities in South Africa. South Africa had three major outbreaks of disease, the last of which was mainly due to the delta variant of the coronavirus. But in recent days, there has been a sharp outbreak of infections, a new strain has been discovered.
The WHO has already said that the new boy on the block can spread faster than its predecessors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has rated the potential threat of Omicron in EU countries from high to very high.
So far, the strain has been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Netherlands, France, Sweden, Portugal, Israel and Japan. About 70 countries have already imposed travel restrictions in response to the spread of Omicron.
A running theory about the origin of this mutation is that its source may be a patient with a weakened immune system who has not fully recovered from a previous Covid strain. So the virus living in that person’s body gets new symptoms.
According to preliminary data, Omicron has moderate and slightly different symptoms of the coronavirus, such as fatigue and heart palpitations. In addition, victims may experience fever and body aches, but loss of smell and taste is unique to this strain. Patients reported no complications, and younger patients had more new symptoms than older patients.
Although the new COVID strain has yet to be fully studied, there are several factors that cause concern. Omicron has a large number of new mutations. For example, a mutation called N501Y makes the virus more infectious, and with each new iteration, the spread of infection increases. In addition, some data suggest that people infected with Covid-19 may be susceptible to re-infection with the new strain.
Are vaccines still effective?
The short answer – “We don’t know.” The WHO is investigating whether Omicron is resistant to currently available vaccines, but they are positive that getting vaccinated will at least give you a better chance of fighting off COVID without dying.
Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer, the leading labs developing the vaccine, have announced that they are working on a new batch that will be ready within the next three months. They are also developing strategies to combat the new strains that will inevitably emerge as idiots refuse to vaccinate.
Either way, a new and improved modified vaccine against the coronavirus could be available as early as 2022, and that’s a good thing.