With the entire world still reeling under the effects of the COVID Delta (which was largely responsible for the disastrous second wave in India) and Delta Plus variants, 'Omicron' (B.1.1.529 variant), which has recently been detected in South Africa, is now something of real concern currently for everyone.
Following the emergence of the new variant, an expert from the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics stated that it is important to be informed and alarmed about the variant. However, there is no need to panic, he added.
Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics Dr Saumitra Das, as per an ANI report, was quoted as saying that it is normal for an RNA virus to continue mutating and so this mutation "is not a surprise."
"It is almost like 30 mutations in one particular viral protein, which is a very unusual situation. It could be more transmissible or might have different kinds of functional activity, which we do not know at this stage. That is how I think there is so much concern,"
Meanwhile, an individual returning from South Africa to Dombivli has tested positive for COVID-19 on November 28, revealed the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC). KDMC health officer Dr Pratibha Panpatil also revealed the samples from the earlier-mentioned individual will be sent for genome sequencing to ascertain whether the man has been infected with the new variant Omricon or not.
US, Europe On Alert
At a time when the new B.1.529 variant has caused restrictions on travelers from South Africa and numerous other African countries, many western nations are also witnessing a massive surge in coronavirus cases despite having a big proportion of their population being fully vaccinated.
As per the John Hopkins University COVID resource centre, countries like the UK, US and Germany have been reporting more than 50,000 cases every day.
Is Omicron More Dangerous Than Delta?
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the initial evidence suggests that there might be an increased risk of reinfection with the B.1.1.529 variant. Meanwhile, individuals who have previously been infected with COVID-19 could also become reinfected more easily with the Omicron variant, according to an NDTV report.
WHO also stated that it is not clear whether the B.1.1.529 variant is more transmissible, in comparison to the Delta and other COVID variants. Furthermore, it is still not clear if 'Omicron' causes more severe disease as there is still no information that suggests that the symptoms associated with the B.1.1.529 variant are different from those from other COVID-19 variants.