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What is the news?
The new variant of COVID-19 i.e. Omicron is spreading across India. The experts say that the surge is likely due to reinfections (people getting infected with the virus again) and even vaccinated people getting infected.
What are the concerns about this variant?
More transmissible than Delta. This is evident from the steep rise in cases in South Africa where, Omicron has overtaken Delta variant.
Presence of multiple mutations on the spike protein region and it has all the mutations of Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and itself. It is a peculiar virus. It is likely to evade immunity even for a vaccinated person, and therefore, we need booster doses.
Due to its high transmissible nature and cases already found in India, there is high possibility of 3rd wave due to this variant. However, the magnitude of the rise in cases and the severity are still not clear.
The effectiveness of vaccine of original variant is likely to be less for Omicron variant.
However, evidence suggests that the severity of infection induced by this variant is not critical. This is due to the fast pace of vaccination and high exposure to Delta variants, thereby acquiring natural infection immunity.
Should India be concerned?
India has had substantial exposure to the Delta variant and has acquired natural infection immunity. It is much more broad based to deal with variants that evade anti-spike antibodies.
Also, India is better prepared now for surveillance, testing and care.
So, Omicron is not likely to wreak havoc in India.
Source: This post is based on the article “Omicron likely to cause re-infections, surge in cases, say experts” published in Business Standard on 3rd Dec 2021.