Omicron: good and bad news about the new Covid variant

Good and bad news about Omicron
Very contagious but perhaps with mild symptoms
More hospitalizations and more deaths
Reinfection is possible
But vaccines work
If Omicron displaces the Delta variant, the increase of casualties may drop
Logical viral evolution
Covid-19 turned into a cold
South African expertise of Omicron
Complete data are still lacking
Omicron and children: bad news?
Child vaccination
Omicron is yet unknown
Vaccination in poor countries
The origin of Omicron
Take care until the end of the pandemic
Good and bad news about Omicron

It is inevitable that the appearance of new variants of the coronavirus puts us on our guard. Mutations of Covid-19 could pose a great danger. Still, the new information we have about Omicron is both good and bad. Interestingly, some experts even see a light at the end of the tunnel if Omicron becomes the dominant version of the coronavirus from now on.

Very contagious but perhaps with mild symptoms

Tedros Adhanom, director of the World Health Organization (WHO), has pointed out two characteristics of the new variant: its very high capacity for contagion (greater than the Delta) and a certain lightness in the symptoms it causes.

More hospitalizations and more deaths

Even so, the WHO warns that the arrival of the Omicron variant and its very rapid rise will cause an increase in hospitalizations and deaths worldwide. By mere statistics, if there are more infections, there will be more serious cases - especially when you consider that certain poor countries still have a very low vaccination rate.

Reinfection is possible

Although an in-depth study of the new variant has not yet been possible, the investigation is ongoing and it is assumed that Omicron can re-infect people who've had Covid-19 before and those who've been vaccinated. It is therefore not limited to the unvaccinated and / or non-immune.

But vaccines work

Vaccines are still the best way to protect us, though. They are in fact the only effective protection against serious illness that we know of. And, what's more, Pfizer claims that three doses of its vaccine work as a total defense against Omicron.

If Omicron displaces the Delta variant, the increase of casualties may drop

Since Omicron expands very rapidly, it is expected to displace Delta as the dominant variant of the coronavirus. If studies indeed confirm that Omicron is a lighter version of the virus, that could be a the basis of good news. With Omicron, we may enter a new phase in which Covid-19 would be a severe but not fatal condition.

Logical viral evolution

Scientists pointed out from the beginning of the pandemic that the usual evolution in viruses moves towards an ever lower lethality. For a virus, they say, it is an improvement if it manages to live inside of people without killing them. The person hosting the virus needs to be alive in order to 'accommodate' the disease.

Covid-19 turned into a cold

The most optimistic scientific scenario outlines a future in which Covid-19 comes to resemble a cold or the flu. Such a scenario poses that we will be able to live with the coronavirus without the need for emergency measures.

South African expertise of Omicron

South African experts, who've studied Omicron as much as any of their colleagues in the world, claim that it is not more serious than other existing variants. Dr. Angelique Coetzee, president of the South African Medical Association, told the BBC that they have generally observed 'very mild symptoms' in patients with Omicron.

Complete data are still lacking

However, the WHO warned that it would take weeks of rigorous studies and massive data collection to accurately define the impact of Omicron. And there is already some bad news about the variant that may (or may not) be confirmed.

Omicron and children: bad news?

Urgent questions about Omicron include: Does this new variant infect children? Does it cause their hospitalization? Initially, serious cases were reported among the juvenile population of South Africa. However, not much else is known.

Child vaccination

Some countries (such as the United States and Spain) have already implemented vaccination programs for children. They have done so to create a defense against a possibly more aggressive variant of the coronavirus. Moreover, they are vaccinating children to hinder the transmission of the virus between them and from children to adults.

Omicron is yet unknown

Each new variant is a a stranger with certain risks. For that reason, the WHO calls for a worldwide mass vaccination so that the virus cannot continue to circulate and mutate.

Vaccination in poor countries

A number of poor countries have yet to receive sufficient vaccines to immunize their population. If they don't, a new variant can develop, as happened with Omicron. The more a virus spreads, the more space it gets to become stronger.

 

The origin of Omicron

There are several hypotheses about Omicron. One of them  is that the mutation developed within the body of someone infected with HIV. This person had a low resistance against the coronavirus, scholars say, and for that reason it was able to develop itself and mutate into what we now call Omicron.

Take care until the end of the pandemic

Thanks to vaccination, more human bodies have become resistant to the coronavirus than before. It is the beginning of the end of the pandemic. For now, however, we will have to continue living with Covid-19 and wear masks, keep a distance, and wash our hands.

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