In the past week, a new strain of Covid has been identified in several countries worldwide. A step up from the original threat, it is now considered a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization and has been labeled OMICRON by the press. The first known case was confirmed in England; however, there are already many others throughout Europe, Canada, and the US (including New York).
It is uncertain what this virus can do to your body or what exactly it will do to you. Currently, there are no known cases of death attributed to its infection but precautionary measures should still be taken to avoid spreading this potentially fatal disease even further.
It’s like you decide to marry someone on the first date. Only your life is at stake. What we know is OMICRON has mutations that theoretically help it to spread more quickly and South Africa is a perfect example of this happening with high numbers of new cases being reported there.
It also has mutations that theoretically make the vaccine less effective, and the World Health Organization says there is a higher risk of reinfection than with other variants (West Africa for instance).
We don’t know if it will get bad enough to cause widespread epidemics that require the UK government to begin immunizing all of its citizens. But this strain is believed to be milder than previous flu seasons, so hopefully, it won’t come to that. Finally, experts are advising towards regular hand washing and other preventative measures in an attempt to fight against the potential for infection.
Of course, the UK government has its own plans. They are getting ready to test every single person who enters the country to see if they may be infected or dangerous, and they plan on isolating any contacts that have been made with OMICRON. This might not be enough to stop more cases from coming into the country though. The virus has already come once – it’s not stopping now!
And it has the potential to spread here too. Cases of Covid have been climbing except for a lull over the October half term.
They are averaging at more than 40,000 a day and the R number – the average number of people each infected person passes the virus on to – is just above the crucial threshold of one, which means cases are growing.
The government was focused on the pressure hospitals are under because of outbreaks of diseases like this one. They considered the following: either to make stricter restrictions or develop a solution for this problem as soon as possible.
But, as statistics show, there was a steep increase in the number of patients requiring hospital care for Covid Fever; however, it’s important to mention that, despite this alarming trend, many patients were able to recover with no need for any sort of long-term treatment and some even treated themselves with OMICRON boosters (vaccines).
All measures can buy time, but for whom? Science and promoters.
There are important scientific questions that need answering and if you consider the top of this list, it is something to do with whether or not immunity and Omicron can get along for more than a second. The question has decided the fate of many, both for better or worse.
Our immune system is like the pit crew of Formula 1 car. It’s equipped with antibodies to take care of anything that comes up so similar to how one would usually deal with any type of problem in relation to their racecar except that Omicron has managed to figure out a way to baffle the crew into making their job harder in order for them not to succeed at doing their actual job, which is to protect you from getting sick.
Because of the nature of this illness, we may never know why we’re seeing these changes in immunization coverage. It will take time to understand and be able to support it.
With so many people being affected by the omicron virus, one might think that vaccine boosters in order to limit and eliminate any further outbreak would be a good idea in place in South Korea. The truth is that in theory, you can compensate for an underlying immune system which is less efficient if there were boosters in place because you could simply throw more antibodies and T-cells at the problem; even if they are imperfect.
Pharmaceutical companies say they could design a medicine to match the Omicron virus in around 100 days if it were needed. The good news is that public health experts say there are already four brand-new antiviral medicines on the market right now, including Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu).
These drugs target the inner workings of the virus and experts have assured me that there is no indication yet that these medications would be rendered useless by the mutations seen so far.
It’s important for us to learn more about Omicron so that we can all be better prepared in case it ever reaches our shores. While cases have been reported in South Africa, the youngest of the population has reported almost no symptoms of mental illness, which leads me to believe it must possess some sort of cure within its pathogen coding.
As an epidemiologist, I can’t help but wonder if Covid is perhaps one step closer to being contained before crossing our borders. However, for this methodology to work on a global scale, governments need to pool their knowledge and resources together with scientists who are researching Covid worldwide. The only way organisms like this will be contained is when countries band together and work towards removing the virus entirely in our oceans for good!