Ómicron: how it works, what is known about it and what we need to learn from this variant

Una dosis de la vacuna de AstraZeneca contra el covid-19.


One dose of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Photo: DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP / Getty Images

“Everything is riskier now because Omicron is much more contagious”Emphasizes the doctor who directs the analysis laboratory at Houston Methodist Hospital, S. Wesley Long.

The doctor, quoted by The Associated Press, admits that in recent days he has already canceled several plans to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Just about days before Christmas, various parts of the planet see a dramatic increase in contagion of covid-19 by the omicron variant, when scientists confirm that, indeed, this variant has an enormous contagion capacity. However, they are not sure if it causes a more serious disease.

Already is the dominant variant in the United States; In the past week accounted for nearly three out of four new infections.

Its spread

The speed of propagation shown by Ómicron far exceeds the Delta variant; in less than a month – three weeks – this variant is in 80% of newly diagnosed symptomatic cases at the Houston Methodist Hospital testing centers. It took Delta three months to reach the same level.

Hong Kong investigators revealed indications that Ómicron has the ability to multiply faster than Delta in the airways, but it did not multiply with the same speed deep within the lungs..

Another key factor in trying to understand the spread of Omicron is found in human behavior. Many parts of the world they relaxed the measures, traveled, met and resumed various activities, which coincided with the spread of this variant.

Vaccines

The drugs that have been used so far, although they are very useful, do not show as much protection against the new variant as they have done with previous versions.

Vaccines will protect against serious illness, hospitalization, and death”, The newspaper quotes Dr. Long.

Antibodies fall naturally over time, but a booster dose raises them significantly.

Natural immunity

Like vaccination, apparently having a previous illness does not offer much protection against Omicron; however, like vaccination, it can reduce the chance that people will become seriously ill.

The risk of reinfection has been shown with data in South Africa and Great Britain, for example, to be much higher with Omicron.

Experts say that a greater protection in people who were previously infected, appears when they choose to be vaccinated.

Does it cause a milder illness?

Although the first reports based on what is happening in South Africa suggest that the disease due to this variant has milder symptoms, experts consider it to be too early as to be able to assure it.

In addition, they ask to take into consideration that the country’s population is quite young, in addition to considering that many still have some protection from a recent infection with the Delta variant.

“There is a hint, and I think many of us are hopeful that Ómicron is less serious. But I don’t think you can bet on that yet. We are talking about SARS CoV-2, a virus that has killed millions of people”.

The claim, cited by The Associated Press, is from Dr. Jacob Lemieux, who is responsible for overseeing the variants for a research collaboration led by Harvard Medical School.

Who are most at risk

If you are an older person, you have underlying conditions, if you are obese, you are more likely to develop a serious illness. I don’t think it’s different ”from the behavior that other variants have had, says Dr. Carlos del Río, from Emory University.

Experts, finally, remember that it is time to reconsider all the precautions that we already know, to prevent a contagion: in addition to getting vaccinated is essential, it is necessary to reuse masks indoors, keep your distance, avoid large concentrations and keep measurements hygiene, mainly hands, already known to all.

This also interests you:
– Mexico confirms 23 cases of the Omicron variant, two weeks after arriving in the country
– Biden government warns unvaccinated people about serious illness or death before Ómicron
– The first death of a patient with Omicron in the United States is reported in Houston

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