The New Omicron variant – Here’s what you need to know!

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Like the never-ending sequels to the famous movies, more thrilling and bigger each time, Covid is coming up with variations strong enough to leave you with a feeling of angst and surprise. 

No sooner than we started sighing in relief that we saw the ominous variant multiplying in spikes of protein. 

Doctors went more particular with testing each time. The government did its best to contain the spread. A country-wide lockdown was announced several times. 

Still, the treacherous Covid didn’t wane but rather got stronger over time. 

According to a study, India has had around 7684 variants of covid so far. Feels like too much? [1]

Well! Here is another one.

Similar to the highly transmissible Omicron but different in strength. It is called the BA.4 and BA.5 version of the Omicron. 

So, before getting into a sense of panic, it is always best to know more about it. So let us start with the symptoms so you take control of your health before it slips from your hands – like sand. 

So, What are the symptoms?

We got lucky here as the symptoms remain the same, with cough, body ache, chills, headache, running nose, and loss of appetite as the primary indications. 

However, only mild symptoms like cold are more apparent in those fully vaccinated. [2]

But, hey, hold your horses before you go on to plan a plunge into normalcy. 

What! Is it severe like the Delta one? 

No, not like the Delta one. But, definitely more severe than the rest of the variants. We don’t seem to realize the severity as we have achieved a decent level of herd immunity, but that can’t be used as a ground for complacency. 

How severe is the variant? 

UKHSA believes the variant does not lead to severe illness and death. But, the mutations are a matter of concern. [3]

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the BA.4 and BA.5 variants have amino acid substitutions that were not seen before in BA.1 and BA.2. 

Umm, what is this scientific term? 

This term indicates a faster growth rate of the spikes in the new variant compared to the previous one. 

That explains the higher transmissibility of this variant in the UK, where the transmission rate stands at 50% more than the previous variants. 

Aren’t Vaccines strong enough to protect us? 

The variant, according to experts, can dodge the immunity and antibody achieved from vaccines making infections prevalent even in those who are vaccinated. 

But, Don’t worry! Here is the good news. According to UKHSA scientists, the higher transmission rates don’t translate to severe illness and death, especially for those vaccinated. 

Also, as the variations have not changed much between BA.2 and BA.5, the immune response generated by vaccines suited to previous variants is still effective. 

Hmm, BA.2, BA.4, BA.5. Can’t spot much difference!

Does that mean the ones already infected with BA.2 are less likely to get reinfected?  

New Variant and Reinfection 

The variant has multiple lineages with similar sounding names. But, that doesn’t ensure a total protection against reinfection. 

Bioinformatician Tulio de Oliveria states that the potency of antibodies received through infection and vaccine has declined. Therefore, wild assumptions of complete protection from previous infections may cost you dearly. [4]

According to a few scientists, often, a new variant is the one responsible for a subsequent wave. 

May we get lucky this time and don’t face a severe blow. 

Should we get a Booster Dose? 

Let us understand that a wholly new variant is not going to emerge anytime soon. We are still waiting for Omicron to complete its due. Therefore, a booster dose may enhance your antibodies – equipping you to get stronger and fight the new variant. [5]

Infections from BA.1 or BA.2 release antibodies but are thin-layered and hence less effective. Boosters surely stand as a savior here if you want to be at a safer place. 

What else to follow? 

The guidelines mentioned above do protect you from the variant. Still, there is no substitute for masks, sanitizers, and other covid appropriate behavior we were following during the onset of the pandemic.

Vaccines and boosters are important but let us not allow these to extend an unhealthy assurance against covid infection. 

Remember, Covid is too big a master to be treated with complacency. 

 

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She is a National level Debater with many accolades and as an aspiring journalist, she aims to present and document content in a well rounded and constructive manner.

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