The latest variant of Coronavirus, the B.1.1.529 or Omicron, is causing havoc throughout the globe. First found in November 2021, Omicron has spread across continents, showing rapid epidemic growth. The easy spread is said to be because of an increase in transmissibility and its ability to dodge immunity granted by the vaccination and infection itself.
With cases rising, government and healthcare agencies are trying to incorporate all possible precautionary measures and restrictions. An increase in cases puts stress on the healthcare system by increasing the demand for ambulance support, infection control, supportive care for mild cases, isolation needs, and an infected workforce.
Data suggests that this variant spreads easily compared to the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. The CDC informs that anyone with Omicron infection can spread it, even when fully vaccinated and without symptoms.
CDC and the WHO are still collecting data to understand Omicron’s severity, especially in cases of reinfections and infections in fully vaccinated individuals.
Studies show that there is not much difference in the range of Omicron symptoms from other variants of Coronavirus. CDC informs that the variant has a smaller incubation period. This suggests that symptoms are visible within three days of contracting the infection.
Omicron symptoms are potentially milder but visible in people who are fully vaccinated. Omicron symptoms include -
The latest reports also mention two unusual Omicron symptoms - vomiting and loss of appetite.
According to WHO, corticosteroids and IL6-receptor blockers are still effective in managing patients with the virus. Omicron treatment includes symptom management using medicines. Scientists are still working on creating treatments based on the genetic makeup of the Omicron variant.
The vaccines available in the market (Covishield, Covaxin, Moderna, J&J/Janssen, Pfizer-BioNTech) are still the best available protection against the Omicron variant. Vaccines help prevent severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death.
Worldwide, CDC recommends vaccination for ages five and above. In India, vaccinations are in full swing for ages fifteen and above. Frontline workers, doctors, and other high-risk groups are getting precautionary third dose/ booster dose for extra protection.
Preventive actions are the same as those for other variants of Coronavirus. These include -
WHO and CDC advises people to go ahead and get themselves tested if they have any Omicron or Coronavirus-related symptoms. NAATs and antigen tests are available to know if one has the virus. The early it is detected, the easier it is to manage it using available Omicron treatment.
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