5 reasons why Omicron is far more dangerous than any other Covid-19 variant
Omicron has become the fastest transmissible variant yet and has affected hundreds in barely a few weeks
The sudden spike of the Omicron super-strain of Covid-19 has raised immense concern worldwide due to its highly infectious nature. Countries are exercising international travel bans and strict protective protocols to curb the spread of the latest strain, which is believed to be the most dangerous and vaccine-resistant variant so far. US president Joe Biden announced a travel ban to and from eight African nations which have clocked an alarming rise in the Omicron variant.
"Finally, for the world community: the news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations. The United States has already donated more vaccines to other countries than every other country combined. It is time for other countries to match America’s speed and generosity," Biden noted in his latest statement. However, experts believe that the existing Covid vaccines will not be foolproof against the Omicron variant. Here are the reasons why you should be more worried about the advent of Omicron, also known as the Botswana Covid variant or B.1.1.529.
Most transmissible variant ever
The Omicron is a super mutant variant of the infectious Delta strain, and it has acquired all the dangerous mutations of its predecessors. This is the prime reason why Omicron has become the fastest transmissible variant yet and has affected thousands in barely a few weeks. It is even affecting former Covid patients with in-built natural immunity against the disease. Originating in Africa, the Omicron strain has the potential to become world-dominant in months.
Comprises 50 of the worst mutations
Omicron constitutes 32 dangerous mutations on its spike protein, twice as many as that of the Delta variant. It also comprises a drop-out mutation of the Alpha variant which infected and killed many in the UK in 2020. The new strain contains more vaccine-resistant mutations than the Beta variant, which was known to be the top vaccine-resistant strain till now. Two additional mutations (R203K and G204R) on the spike protein permit the Omicron to invade human cells easily and replicate faster than its former counterparts. In total, the Botswana variant has 50 mutations in total as compared to the first-ever Covid-19 strain that caused the global pandemic.
Omicron is a 'variant of concern'
The World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized the virus as a 'variant of concern', thereby denoting it as the highest-risk strain. Health experts and researchers have concluded that Omicron causes far severe and extreme symptoms and might also render the vaccines partially ineffective.
It has already been detected in 5 countries
Omicron variant has already affected five countries in the world, from Africa, Asia to Europe. It has been spotted so far in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel, and Belgium. The province with the highest number of Omicron cases so far happens to be Gauteng in the eastern part of South Africa, near Johannesburg.
Omicron has very high viral load
Covid-expert and epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding tweeted, "The viral load of these two with #B11529 in Hong Kong hotels were VERY high. PCR Ct values of 18 and 19!!! That’s insanely high considering they were negative on recent PCR tests. Damn, looks like vaccine evasion could be real with this variant.”
With the holiday season approaching, there are increased risks of the Omicron super-strain spreading rapidly, as people are expected to gather for parties and celebrations in December. As of now, experts are advising to adhere to Covid safety protocols strictly to avoid any risk of infection.