Jul 20 2022
6 Insights to Better Understand Omicron
The most recent wave of COVID-19 has raised an alarming concern over the transmission rate of Omicron variant and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron. Below is some information that summarizes what you ought to know about this disturbing variant:
1. When and where did Omicron start?
The SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron (B.1.1.529) was first reported to WHO from South Africa on Nov 23, 2021, and was later designated as a Variant of Concern (VOC) in Nov 26, 2021. Omicron cases have been detected in more than 95 countries or regions by now.
2. What are the symptoms of Omicron?
Symptoms of Omicron and other COVID-19 variants are quite similar, while the top five Omicron symptoms reported are:
- Runny nose
- Fatigue (either mild or severe)
- Sore throat
3. Is Omicron more contagious?
Earlier evidence indicated that Omicron is two to four times as likely to spread as past variants (Omicron cases are doubling every two to four days).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BA.5 subvariant now accounts for 65% of current COVID-19 cases in the United States.
Additionally, the CDC has found that the Omicron variant spreads more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Delta variant. In the first months of 2022, an Omicron subvariant called BA.2 began to spread even faster than other Omicron variants. BA.4 and BA.5 are thought to be even more transmissible.
4. Does Omicron cause a less severe illness?
According to early Omicron cases, Omicron hospitalization risk around one third of Delta and its symptoms are usually less severe. It is found that Omicron replicated less efficiently (more than 10 times slower) in the human lung tissue than other variants, which has been shown to cause lower severity of illness.
5. Are COVID-19 vaccines effective against Omicron?
It is believed that receiving the third shot is more effective against Omicron; whereas the protection from two doses of vaccine may not be as significant as to other variants. However, different immune responses and types of vaccine affect the amount of effective antibodies produced after vaccination. Therefore, if the amount of effective antibodies triggered after vaccination is low, there is still a high chance of infection.
6. What should I protect myself from Omicron?
Regardless of vaccination status, it is always wiser to fight against the pandemic through maintaining personal hygiene including wearing masks, washing hands with soap and avoiding public gatherings and large-scale events. It is also recommended to get yourselves tested regularly, especially if you do attend a large gathering/event or find yourself with symptoms.
INDICAID® COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test has been proven to detect Omicron and its variants.