DenpaNews The latest mutation of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 was declared a variant of concern and named Omicron on November 26, 2021. Here is a summary of myths and facts about the Omicron variant summarized by the World Health Organization ( WHO ). Since its identification, understanding of this variant has greatly improved due to collaborative global research and it is possible to observe the behavior of this viral mutation. Reporting from the official website of the World Health Organization (WHO), the latest epidemiological data show a significant increase in Covid-19 infections in the WHO Europe region, mostly as a result of the spread of the Omicron variant. In September 2021, WHO Europe regions experienced more than 1 million new cases of Covid-19 every week, but by the first week of January 2022, this had increased to more than 7 million cases reported in one week. Omicron variant facts and myths Here are some facts and myths summarized by WHO regarding the Omicron variant:
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1. Fact: The Omicron doesn’t appear to be that severe compared to the Delta variant, but shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Myth: Omicron only causes mild illness.
Explanation: The fact that in some countries the severity of infection from Covid-19 the Omicron variant in the population is lower than the Delta variant. However, it is mostly observed in countries with high vaccination rates. The relatively lower rates of hospitalization and death so far are largely due to vaccination, especially for vulnerable groups. Without vaccination, many more people will likely be in the hospital. Thus, it is too early to say the impact of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 on countries with lower vaccination uptake and in the most vulnerable groups.
2. Fact: Omicron still poses a high risk to the health system.
Myth: Because Omicron is less severe, there will be fewer hospitalizations and the health system will be able to cope.
Explanation: The overall risk associated with Omicron remains very high for some reasons. Current data shows this variant has a higher growth advantage over Delta. If Omicron’s Covid infections were less severe than the Delta variant, the rapid increase in cases would result in increased hospitalizations, putting pressure on the healthcare system to treat patients with Covid-19 and other types of illness.
3. Fact: The Covid-19 vaccine offers the best protection available against Omicron.
Myth: The Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t work against Omicron.
Explanation: Vaccination is expected to provide important protection against severe disease and death caused by Omicron, as with other variants still circulating. To date, the hospitalization and death rates have been relatively lower than Omicron, in large part because many people have been vaccinated. Vaccination boosts the body’s immune response to the virus, which not only protects against currently circulating variants but may provide protection against severe disease caused by the Covid-19 mutation in the future.
4. Fact: People who are not vaccinated are most at risk of exposure to Omicron.
Myth: People who are not vaccinated will not get seriously ill from Omicron.
Explanation: The number of new coronavirus infections has led to more hospitalizations in countries where the Omicron variant has become the dominant strain. The vast majority of those requiring hospitalization are people who have not been vaccinated, and there are no measures to stop the transmission of the coronavirus.
5. Fact: Omicron is much more dangerous than the common cold.
Myth: Omicron is just like the common cold.
Explanation: The Omicron is unlike the common cold in that it is more likely than a cold to get a person hospitalized. It has been seen that people infected with this variant are hospitalized and some people have died. People who have been exposed to the virus and recovered are also thought to be at risk for what is known as long covid.
6. Fact: Omicron can re-infect people who have previously had Covid-19.
Myth: Previous infections confer immunity from Omicron If you have previously been infected with Covid-19, you must still be vaccinated because re-infection from Omicron is still possible, with the risk of becoming seriously ill, transmitting the virus to other people, or developing long covid. Getting fully vaccinated, regardless of whether you have been exposed to the coronavirus or not, is the best way to protect yourself and others from serious illness, hospitalization, and potentially death from the virus.
7. Fact: injections Booster vaccine are effective in increasing protection against severe disease.
Myth: Booster vaccine injections are not effective against the severe disease of the Omicron Varian variant
Explanation: The effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine-like many other vaccines, such as the vaccine for the flu, diminishes over time. So if you receive a booster vaccine offer, you are advised to do it immediately. The booster vaccine will increase protection against severe disease from Omicron and other variants. This is especially important for people from risk groups such as the elderly (60 years and over) and comorbid people, who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill from the infection. Health workers should also receive booster injections due to the high risk of exposure to the virus and the danger of spreading it to vulnerable people being treated.
8. Fact: Wearing a mask is an effective protective measure to help reduce infection and the spread of Omicron. Myth: Masks are useless against Omicron because the gaps inside are bigger than viruses
Explanation: Based on the evidence so far, all precautions that worked against Delta, remained effective against Omicron, including the wearing of masks. Also read:Omicron moves very quickly, so all precautions, such as wearing masks, cleaning hands, maintaining physical distance, avoiding closed spaces, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and ensuring good ventilation, are needed to stem the tide of infection and protect workers and the health system.
9. Fact: The end of the pandemic is yet to be seen.
Myth: Less severe Omicron, nearing the end of pandemic
Explanation: It is important to realize that there are still ways to end the pandemic. Despite fewer hospitalizations and deaths overall, there has been a large spike in Covid-19 cases. While Omicron is rapidly evolving, currently most cases of Covid-19 are still caused by the Delta variant, which is known to cause severe illness and death. In countries, Omicron has become the dominant variant, seen cases doubling every 1.5-3 days, with hospitalizations increasing rapidly. For this reason, vaccination is still required regardless of one’s place of residence or age. Ending the pandemic requires achieving much higher vaccination rates in vulnerable groups, priority groups, and others, including vaccine equivalence. In addition, misinformation and disinformation fuels mistrust that puts health and lives at risk, undermines trust in science, institutions, and health systems, and hinders response to pandemics.