OMICRON – what we already know about the new variant
First identified in November this year, the new Covid-19 variant, Omicronapparently has a potentially reduced severity compared to the Delta variant.
However, and according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), “the increased transmissibility and resulting exponential growth of cases will quickly outweigh the benefits of any reduction in severity.”
“It is considered very likely that Omicron will cause more hospitalizations and deaths than estimated in previous forecasts,” ECDC noted.
Most common symptoms of Omicron variant
Severe fatigue for one or two days, headache, and body pain are the most common clinical complaints of the Omicron variant.
A sore throat, muscle pain, especially in the lower back, a stuffy nose, gastrointestinal problems and loose stools are other symptoms of Omicron, which, because it does not have a loss of taste or smell, two of the warning signs of Covid-19, makes the disease more difficult to identify at an early stage.
Dry cough and night sweats are other possible symptoms of this variant.
|Delta variant||Omron variant||Other variants|
|Fever||Muscle pain||Respiratory difficulties|
|Runny nose||Sore throat||Loss of smell and taste|
How to protect yourself from Omicron
Protective measures against the Omicron variant are no different from the precautions to avoid Covid-19 that have been recommended since the beginning of the pandemic, namely:
- Maintain a safe distance from other people, at least two meters away ;
- Wear a mask, especially in confined spaces;
- Wash or sanitize hands frequently;
- Avoid enclosed areas and spaces with high concentrations of people;
- Provide ventilation to enclosed spaces by opening windows to circulate air, such as;
- When you need to cough or sneeze, do so by covering your face with your arm or use a disposable tissue;
- Vaccinate yourself against Covid-19;
- If you have been in contact with someone infected with the disease, you should isolate yourself and call SNS 24 (808 24 24 24).
The main variants of Covid-19
The World Health Organization classifies coronavirus variants according to their degree of dangerousness, dividing them into variants of concern, variants of interest or variants under surveillance.
There are currently five variants of the concern: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron.
The Alpha variant was identified as a concern in December 2020 and quickly spread to England and then around the world, while not having much expression in the United States of America.
It has a 50% higher transmission capacity than previously identified strains and has 23 mutations, including one that significantly increases transmissibility.
This variant is sensitive to treatment with monoclonal antibodies and can be prevented by the action of existing vaccines.
First detected in South Africa, this variant includes a mutation that evades the immune system and has also shown a high capacity for transmission.
This strain has been shown to infect people already infected with other variants as well as people vaccinated against Covid-19.
Despite the initial concern, it is now of little consequence.
The Delta variant remains the dominant strain in most parts of the world, accounting for 99.9% of cases in the United States. It is not yet clear whether the disease caused by this variant is more severe than that caused by the others, but it has a high transmission capacity compared to the original strain.
With a large set of mutations in the spicule protein, a doorknob-like structure that the virus uses to cling to the cells in which it hosts itself.
It is able to trick the immune system, which means that people who have already been infected with older variants may be more prone to reinfection.
This is a variant that has taken hold in Brazil but has failed to spread to other countries and is now considered only a variant under surveillance.
First detected on November 9 of this year due to an outbreak of cases in South Africa, the Omicron variant immediately became known for the speed with which it is transmitted.
This strain also has several mutations in the spicule protein and, in addition to mutations that give it enormous speed of transmissibility, it also has changes that make the virus less recognizable by certain antibodies.
One mutation in particular, N501Y, also present in the Alpha and Gamma variants, increases the ability of the virus to replicate in the upper respiratory tract, nose and throat, making it much more easily transmissible, through coughing or sneezing.
Although many doubts remain about the mode of action of this variant and its severity, experts believe that vaccination plays an important role in protecting against Omicron, and recommend following the full vaccination schedule, with corresponding boosters.