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Table of Content
- Various Sources Used
- The Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of SARS-CoV-2
- Mutation of SARS-CoV-2
- Symptoms of Coronavirus(Updated and May be Updated in Future too)
- How to prevent Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant of Coronavirus
- Diagnosis of Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant of Coronavirus
- What are the Characteristics of Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant of Coronavirus?
- How Various Countries are responding to Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant of Coronavirus
The Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of SARS-CoV-2:
A variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, known as Omicron, is also known as B.1.1.529 by PANGO, GR/484A by GISAID, and 21K by Nextstrain. In Botswana, the first case was detected, on 9 November 2021. According to WHO, it was designated as a variant of concern on 26 November 2021 and given the Greek letter Omicron (B.1.1.529) as its name.
A large number of mutations are present in this variant, many of them new, and several of them affect the spike protein which was the primary target of the vaccine at the time of discovery. In view of this variability, concerns have been raised regarding immunosuppression, vaccine resistance, and transmissibility. A number of countries introduced travel restrictions to slow or limit the spread of this variant after it was promptly declared "of concern."
Mutation of SARS-CoV-2:
Several mutations are noted in the variant, and some of them are troubling. There are 32 mutations in the spike protein, the main antigenic target of antibodies that are generated by infections and by many vaccines routinely administered. A number of these mutations had not previously been identified in other strains of the virus.
Comparing the variant with the original virus, 30 amino acid differences, three deletions, and one insertion are found in the spike protein, of which 15 are found in the receptor-binding region (residues 319-541). Several other genomic regions have also been modified or deleted. There are three mutations at the site of cleavage of furin in this variant. Infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 is enhanced by Furin cleavage.
Symptoms of Coronavirus(Updated and May be Updated in Future too):
Omicron rarely causes any unusual symptoms for its carriers, and some of them are asymptomatic. Coronaviruses of the Omicron Type will cause mild muscle aches, scratches in the throat, and dry coughs. They can also cause a mild temperature increase. Other variants caused more severe symptoms, but these are very mild. Evidence suggests that this variant might be at risk for reinfection. The effects on the transmission of infection, mortality, and other factors are being studied.
How to prevent Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant of Coronavirus:
For this variant as well, the WHO recommended that people remain vigilant about keeping spaces ventilated, avoiding close physical contact, wearing well-fitting masks, and frequently washing their hands. BioNTech announced on 26 November that it will determine within two weeks whether the current vaccine is effective against this variant and that an updated vaccine can be obtained in 100 days if it is needed. The vaccine manufacturers AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson also studied the effect of the variant on vaccine effectiveness.
In addition, mRNA vaccines against Covid may not be effective against Omicron, according to Dr. Samiran Panda from the Indian Council of Medical Research's epidemiology unit. "mRNA vaccines target spike protein and receptor interactions; therefore, they should be adjusted to those changes already observed. But not all vaccines work similarly. Covishield and Covaxin work through a different antigen presentation to the human body," Dr. Panda said.
World Health Organization asked nations to take the following steps:
- The aim is to improve surveillance and analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating in the population.
- Put complete genome sequences and associated metadata in public databases, such as GISAID.
- The IHR mechanism is used to report the first cases and clusters of VOC infections.
- Implement field studies and laboratory assessments, where capabilities exist, in coordination with the international community, to better understand COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, the effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic tools, immunity, antibody elimination, or any other relevant characteristics."
Diagnosis of Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant of Coronavirus:
The variant can be detected using PCR. According to some laboratories, one of the three target genes cannot be detected by the widely used PCR test. Although this partial detection ("S gene target failure") can serve as a marker for the variant, as it does with the Alpha variant. However, rapid antigen tests are not affected.
What are the Characteristics of Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant of Coronavirus?
Mutations of the spike protein appear to be related to increased infectivity and antibody evasion in many other variants of concern. Computer modeling indicates that the variant might also evade the cellular immune response.
To assess possible immune escape, an evaluation of the neutralizing capacity of recombinant serum and of vaccinations is urgently needed. These data are due within two to three weeks.
How Various Countries are responding to Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant of Coronavirus:
South Africa reported the variant to the WHO for the first time on 24 November 2021. On 9 November 2021, the first specimen known to exist was collected in Botswana. In Botswana, all four cases that were initially documented occurred among individuals who had been fully vaccinated. Israel also shared that the three initial reported cases were all reported among fully vaccinated individuals. In the United Kingdom, two cases were reported on 27 November.
During the World Health Organization's 26 November meeting, it was recommended that countries not impose new restrictions on travel, and instead rely on a "risk-based and scientific" approach to security measures. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the same day, restrictive travel restrictions will delay the variant's impact on European countries by two weeks, allowing for the countries to prepare.
Furthermore, several countries, including Japan, Canada, the European Union, Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the United States, and Malaysia, imposed travel bans from southern Africa following the discovery of the variant. Flight restrictions regarding the new variant have been recommended by the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency. Though no cases had yet been detected in the state or the rest of the United States, the state of New York declared a state of emergency because of a potential spike in Omicron (B.1.1.529).
You can read more about this new variant from here:
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