The Arrival of New Variant Omicron
Omicron, a novel coronavirus strain, is creating concern all across the world. Dozens of countries have restricted transportation to the southern African countries where this strain was first detected.
The Scientific Community is Ready for This
Fears of a repeat to the early days of the pandemic, with complete lockdowns, are overblown. Many experts now know more about the virus than they did a few years ago, and they’ll be better prepared to combat it.
The ‘Variant of Concern’
The World Health Organization classified Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’ on November 26. About 32 spike protein changes have been found in the strain, which are the portions of a virus that interact with cells. To put things in perspective, the Delta variety, which swiftly became a dominant strain worldwide, contains only ten mutations.
Evolutionary Selection is Making Mutations Stronger
An Evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, explains in In The New York Times why experts are so concerned about this new variant (Omicron).
In general, Mutations can work against each other, he explains. «However, the evolutionary selection is more likely to result in the spread of a new variety with favorable mutation combinations than [a variant with] unfavorable mutation combinations in this case. » In other words, natural selection has probably made the newly identified variation stronger.
Risk of Reinfection is Higher
It will take weeks to properly investigate the new variant. Still, early data from the WHO has already revealed that Omicron poses an «increased risk of reinfection compared to existing variants of concern.
Do Our Present Vaccines Work Against Omicron?
A new variant does not require the creation of a new vaccination. According to the New York Times, hundreds of research teams are currently working around the clock and worldwide to determine whether the current vaccines are effective against Omicron.
Pharmacists’ Statements, What do they Say?
Pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and BioNTech have specified to CNBC that they are researching the Omicron variant as it evolves.
A Thousand Days’ Promise
According to Reuters, Pfizer and BioNTech estimate that a new vaccine targeted for Omicron might be ready in roughly 100 days, although further data is expected in the coming days.
Our Immunity is Under Threat
According to a Moderna, a statement released the same day that Omicron was named a variant of concern by the WHO. The combination of mutations in the variant «represents a major potential risk to accelerate the waning of natural and vaccine-induced immunity. »
By the Beginning of 2022
According to CNBC, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton mentioned that “vaccine could be ready “by early 2022.” It would also begin to be produced in big quantities at that moment. The pharmaceutical company allegedly has (mobilized hundreds) of workers to research on new variant Omicron.
About Booster Shot
As an improvised strategy against the Omicron strain, only a booster shot from one of the currently authorized vaccinations has been proposed thus far. According to experts cited by The Guardian, the consequences of Omicron will be felt more in countries with lower vaccination rates.
Where has Omicron Spread
So far, cases of the Omicron form have been reported in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain.
There are no New Restrictions in the United States
Governments have expressed concern in response to the Omicron variety. However, there are differences in tone among countries. For example, US President Joe Biden has stated that the new strain is “a reason for caution, not panic.” For the time being, he noted, no further lockdowns or restrictive measures were required.
Countries like Austria, Russia, and the Netherlands had already implemented partial lockdowns and other laws to combat the rising number of Covid-19 cases on their territory before the discovery of Omicron.
Restrictions on Travel
Many people think that this means the pandemic will be prolonged, with further restrictions and lockdowns enacted. Travel restrictions have been imposed on South Africa and its neighbors by countries such as the USA and members of the European Union.
Winter is Approaching
The risk of increasing Covid-19 infections during the winter was already a cause of worry for countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
Some fear that this winter will be much harsher than the previous one, which saw snowstorms in unusual places like Spain and Texas.
When Dealing with Omicron, Experience Helps
We really don’t know much about Omicron, and there’s a lot more research to be done, especially if new varieties emerge. However, the scientific community can benefit greatly from experience gained during two years of dealing with the coronavirus. That is seen by how they respond to Omicron.