Highlights

  • Omicron variant is said to be more transmissible than Delta
  • WHO: Treating Omicron as 'mild' may be dangerous
  • Omicron driving a surge in Covid-19 cases globally

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Your definitive guide to Covid-19 | All you need to know about the Omicron variant of coronavirus

Discovered by scientists in South Africa, Omicron is a heavily mutated variant reported to have more than 30 mutations in its spike protein making it more transmissible than Delta.

Everyone was hoping that 2021 – another year marred by Covid-19 – would go quietly into the night, instead it left the world with concerns about a new variant of the viral infection.

Discovered by scientists in South Africa, Omicron is a heavily mutated variant reported to have more than 30 mutations in its spike protein making it more transmissible than Delta.

Also Read | India's Covid-19 vaccination drive completes a year: here are the major takeaways

According to India’s health ministry data on January 5, the variant has been found in 139 countries with over 4.8 lakh cases.

What are symptoms of the Omicron variant?

According to doctors, the variant in most cases causes asymptomatic or mild infections. The WHO has said that so far there is no data to suggest that Omicron leads to symptoms that are different from the previous variants. Most common symptoms of the Omicron variant according to doctors are fatigue, scratchy throat, headache, body ache and fever.

Doctors also suggest that symptoms like loss of smell and tase, breathlessness or drop in oxygen levels have not yet been associated with Omicron.

Studies suggest that the reason behind the variant presenting mild symptoms and not affecting breathing or oxygen levels is that it does not affect the lung tissue. Comparted to Delta, Omicron mostly affects the upper respiratory tract like nose, mouth and throat and not the lung tissue.

The variant is causing a spike in Covid-19 cases across the globe but available data shows that it is not leading to rise in hospitalization as compared to the earlier waves.

However, WHO has warned that dismissing the variant as mild could be dangerous.

Are vaccines effective against Omicron?

Most doctors and experts are of the opinion that there is not enough data to reach a conclusion on whether or not the new variant reduces the efficacy of the existing vaccines.

With data about the new variant still emerging, how do we keep ourselves protected against it.

The variant may be new but experts suggest that the measures to protect ourselves remain the same. Mask up, get vaccinated and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.

Also Read | India records first Omicron death in Rajasthan's Udaipur

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