Omicron’s new tsunami – should we panic?

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The Omicron variant has created a tsunami of COVID cases across the world. This is probably not surprising because this variant is much more contagious than its predecessors. He has a doubling time of three days compared to three weeks for the Delta variant. However, to our knowledge, it is less likely to cause hospitalization or death. As a result, a massive spike in infected people can be expected in no time to be on the anvil. Essentially, this could lead to an increase in hospitalizations for a short period (maybe two months) and most countries will need to prepare for this.

The best way to fight the new variant is with vaccination for unvaccinated people, a second dose for vaccinated people and boosters, especially for those over 65 who are immunocompromised and all healthcare workers. Although vaccination and boosters do not promise complete immunity against infection, but do ensure negligible risks of death and hospitalization based on current knowledge. This is further applied with appropriate COVID precautions such as masking, social distancing, and avoidance of large gatherings, especially with people who have not been vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.

Two new drugs are now available for COVID-19, but they are only preventing those infected from being hospitalized or dying. One of these drugs will also be produced by Indian pharmaceutical companies and will be available in India. It is essential to understand that these medicines are not intended to prevent Omicron. The vaccine and proper behavior remain the only cornerstone to avoid the virus.

The latest wave of coronavirus to sweep the United States, in large part due to the highly contagious variant Omicron, has produced a worrying increase in hospitalizations among children, not to mention heightened anxiety among parents nationwide . Despite this, there is no evidence that Omicron is more threatening to children. In fact, preliminary data suggests that compared to the Delta variant, Omicron appears to cause milder disease in children, like the first results in adults. Many believe that the lack of vaccination in this age group could be the reason. Lowering the age limit for vaccination in India is therefore a positive step in this direction.

Testing and isolation is relevant if one has been close to an infected person. Although testing is easier said than done. Even in the most advanced countries, queuing up for testing is a big problem. This is due to the wide variation in the availability and need for test kits. So, even if you don’t get tested, you have to self-isolate in such a situation or if symptomatic. Many scientific institutions, including the CDC in the United States, have reduced isolation time, ensuring that healthcare workers who have tested positive do not stray from duty for long. This will ensure that there will be enough people on the move to provide appropriate health services during this wave. It also helps support the economy, which has been hit hard by this pandemic over the past two years. Most people will be able to return to work after a short period of isolation.

We have enough information to tackle this new threat given the vast array of vaccines, equipped hospitals and drugs. So, self-discipline to follow appropriate covid behavior is paramount, not panic! Most people are tired of this prolonged pandemic, but a small sacrifice would play a big part – let’s keep the New Years party on hold given this wave!



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