Early 2020, each one of our lives was turned upside down with the spread of a deadly virus that emerged from Wuhan, China, and has since then, affected almost every part of the world. Since the emergence of this deadly pandemic, numerous Covid-19 variants have been discovered and studied by health experts: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron.
One of the deadliest variants of Covid-19 in the past few months have been the Delta variant, which caused a number of deaths, and hospitalizations amongst the masses and was known to specifically teenagers and young adults.
The first case of the delta variant for covid-19 was first detected in India in late 2020 and was known to be 133% deadlier than the original variant. The Delta variant led to the loss of many lives and caused a spike in infection rate globally. When this covid-19 variant was first detected in India, it led to a rise in hospitalization and an overall shortage of oxygen tanks and continues to be a dominant strain in the country to this date.
However, covid-19 vaccinations substantially contributed towards dissipating the extensive spread of Covid-19 and the delta variant, not just in India, but in all parts of the world and we saw a significant decrease in covid-19 cases in the past few months.
Omicron – a Variant of Concern?
In November, a new variant of covid-19 was detected in South Africa which came to be known as the Omicron variant. Since its emergence, the variant has been found in different countries and states worldwide such as Kerala, Kuwait, Kansas City, Oklahoma, New York, London, United Arab Emirates, Hawaii, Netherlands, and Canada. According to the CDC, the Omicron is a dominant strain in the United States, UK, Denmark, and Portugal at present. Health experts worry that it might take over the country due to its highly contagious nature. Health experts push the implementation of booster shots and have urged the public to take the necessary precautions such as washing their hands, maintaining distance, and avoiding public gatherings to stop the spread of the omicron variant.
On November 26th, the World Health Organization designated Omicron as a “variant of concern,” warning the public that its global risks could be “very high.”
Since the discovery of Omicron, this covid-19 variant has been detected in more than 80 countries, and the cases are likely to increase till 2022.
Does Omicron spread faster than Delta?
Yes, it does, and Omicron is two to three times more likely to spread than Delta. The World Health Organization chief warns of reinfection from covid-19 as US health authorities say Omicron variant now accounts for 73.2 percent of new cases. According to a recent study conducted by a group of British researchers, Omicron was 3.2 likelier to cause a household infection than Delta. However, researchers do not know the reason for its rapid spread.
Do Vaccines Work Against Omicron?
Several studies indicate that an individual can attain protection from the Omicron variant through full vaccination and a booster shot. Moderna Inc recently stated that a booster dose of covid-19 appeared to be effective against the rapidly spreading covid-19’s Omicron variant in laboratory testing and the shot’s current version would continue being the “first line of defense against Omicron.”
In South Africa, researchers revealed that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had effectiveness against Omicron infection of just 33 percent. However, its effectiveness is 80% against other variants.
In Britain, researchers found that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech offered effectiveness of just 34 percent against Omicron. Whereas, Pfizer-BioNTech booster offered effectiveness of 75 percent against the new variant.
In South Africa, researchers who reviewed the first three weeks of Omicron cases in the largest health care system in the country found that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provided effectiveness of 70 percent against hospitalization.
The aforementioned results have spurred vaccination efforts and booster shot campaigns to avoid getting infected and prepare for a surge in Omicron cases in the near future.
Covid-19 could become an endemic disease by 2024 if enough people in the world gain immunity, according to Pfizer executives.
If Covid-19 becomes an endemic disease, it will not go away entirely and will become a vaccinated-protected ailment like flu. Pfizer executives further stated that the timing could vary from place to place, with some regions moving to an endemic model in the next year or two.
Will Covid-19 end in 2022? We cannot say anything for sure. However, if more people attain vaccination and booster shots while maintaining social distance, and taking the necessary precautions, we might overcome the deadly pandemic and wait till it turns into an endemic so we can all live our lives freely without worrying about being infected or infecting those around us.