By A. Melcon
Background information Omicron:
Omicron was declared a concerning variant and assigned its name on the 26th of November 2021. Since then, it has spread worldwide, and has had devastating effects on many countries around the world.
Although since it was first discovered and identified we have found out a lot about the severity and more of the variant, some issues have still not been fully understood.
An important characteristic of Omicron is how quickly it is transmitted, as it has long overtaken Delta and other variants in circulation. This is leading to many outbursts of cases around the world- which is consequently resulting in a significant burden put on health care systems which are already overburdened. This can lead to many patients never even being able to receive medical attendance when they have grave symptoms, possibly leading to death.
It is extremely important to reduce the transmission of Omicron for various reasons. One of these is to reduce the number of infected people so that there are smaller numbers of those with severe diseases or deaths because of the variant. Additionally, it is best to reduce its circulation to limit the number of people with post-COVID conditions, essentially the long-term consequences of the disease, which we have not even completely understood yet. Furthermore, it is best to reduce its transmission because, by doing this, there is less pressure on hospitals and other services, such as for example school, which becomes difficult to operate as many students may get infected. Lastly, as the number of people who get Omicron increases, so does the chance that yet another possibly even more dangerous variant will emerge.
To reduce the damage by Omicron, the World Health Organization, WHO, are working to develop strategies to limit transmission of this variant. However, to fully succeed combating this disease it is essential for all of us to protect ourselves against transmission- always keeping a social distance, wearing masks, working from home if possible and more.
Addressing myths about Omicron:
Firstly, there have been some myths spread about Omicron stating that it is a weaker virus then other variants and is much more mild. Despite Omicron appearing to be weaker than the Delta variant, it is by no means a harmless virus. Although many countries are showing that most people infected by Omicron have shown less infection-severity then other variants, this may also be attributed to the fact that many countries which it has had large surges have had high vaccination rates, where our bodies antibodies may have been more readily fighting the disease, thus making it appear weaker.
Furthermore, the rumor that Omicron doesn’t infect those who have already been infected by COVID is also false. It is important to remember that it is necessary to maintain the same levels of social distancing and care to not be infected with COVID.
Other myths that vaccines don’t work against Omicron and that unvaccinated people are just as protected as those who have been vaccinated are also untrue. To begin, the lower rates of hospitalization and decrease in the death rate in areas with a high vaccination rate shows that vaccines really are making a big difference. Additionally, the fact that during this surge of Omicron, most of the deaths have been of unvaccinated people continues to demonstrate the help that the vaccine can provide to our bodies when combating the virus.
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