Omicron Variant, Effectivenese of Vaccine, Current Test, and Treatment

This last month we got worried again about a new variant of covid-19. After an attack of the Alpha, Beta, Gama, and Delta variants, another variant claimed more infected than another variant. The information about this variant is also limited, but this article would enlighten you. 

What is Omicron?

Omicron is the 13th SARS-CoV-2 variant but is marked with the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. The first variant that first appearance was in South Africa, in the beginning, was called the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. This new variant was named by The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE), an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if specific mutations and combinations of mutations alter the behavior of the virus.

Different from Omicron with other variants

Vinod Balasubramaniam, a virologist from Monash University in Malaysia, said that B.1.1529 has 32 mutations located in its spike protein. These include E484A, K417N, and N440K, which are associated with helping the virus escape from antibody detection. Another mutation, N501Y, appears to increase the ability to enter the body’s cells, making it more infectious.

“Important point is that most of the main mutations are located in the spike protein RBD, the exact location where antibodies from the vaccine are targeted. In other words, the 32 detected mutations in the spike protein of the new variant will change the shape of this structure, causing problems for the vaccine-induced immune response,” Balasubramaniam said.

Effectiveness of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection 

WHO said that preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (i.e., people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), compared to other variants of concern, but the information is limited.

Effectiveness of vaccines

WHO explains that vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating variant, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death.   

Effectiveness of current tests 

The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. WHO also said that studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.  

Effectiveness of current treatments 

WHO still recommended the use of corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers for patients with severe COVID-19.

Recommendation action for countries and people

To prevent the last pandemic, WHO give some recommendations:

  1. Countries should continue implementing effective public health measures to reduce COVID-19 circulation, using risk analysis and a science-based approachThey should increase some public health and medical capacities to manage cases. WHO is providing countries with support and guidance for both readiness and response.
  2. It is vitally crucial that inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines are urgently addressed to ensure that vulnerable groups everywhere, including health workers and older persons, receive their first and second doses, alongside equitable access to treatment and diagnostics.  

For an individual the most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 1 meter from others, wear a well-fitting mask, open windows to improve ventilation, avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces, keep hands clean, cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue, and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.  

 

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