GS Paper - 2 (Disease)

The World Health Organization designated the covid variant B.1.1.529, named Omicron, a variant of concern. Researchers around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron. The new strain confirmed that there were many more mutations than seen in the Delta strain.

WHO update about Omicron covid variant

  1. On Omicron, the team of researchers, however, said "this does not automatically mean that these variations are more dangerous, just that the virus has further adapted to the human species by generating another variant".
  2. It will now be important to define through laboratory experiments whether the combination of these mutations can have an impact on transmission or on the effectiveness of vaccines.
  3. It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta.
  4. It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.
  5. Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.
  6. The widely used PCR tests, WHO said, continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well.
  7. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.