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How dangerous is an omicron mutation?

Since the world has saved the name of the new mutant, “Omicron”, everyone is asking about its implications for laws, regulations and preventive measures. And after a large group of countries began to monitor the mutant among their residents, especially the vaccinated or those who were previously infected with the Corona virus, until the governments returned to confusion about the health measures to be followed.

The world has not yet recovered from the scenes of mass deaths that no one wants to return to, and several countries have already begun imposing new and strict health measures, such as imposing conditions on travelers, restricting the maximum number of gatherings, or returning to education and remote work as much as possible. Rushing to take these measures may be justified, for although people are tired of the epidemic and tired of talking and reading about the virus, the virus has not tired of us yet. At the same time, there are studies that may give a positive and reassuring impression about the new mutant and the severity of his injuries. How severe are the injuries of this mutant? What are the expected consequences of it?
Last week, “nature” magazine published an article on its website by science journalist Heidi Ludford under the title “How dangerous is an omicron mutation?” Summarize most of the studies conducted so far about the effect of the new mutant, from more than one aspect.
According to Ladford, studies and preliminary reports from South Africa have so far shown a lower incidence of hospitalizations in patients with the omicron mutant compared to those with the (currently dominant) delta mutant. Reports in Denmark and Britain did not show a difference in hospitalizations between mutants, but Ludford notes that these studies were conducted on a limited sample of patients. But although the reports are optimistic so far, or at least not pessimistic, they are still preliminary, and the real implications of the new mutant may take longer to become clear. In addition, it should be slowed down regarding hospitalization rates, although they are lower compared to other variables, but they will become more important if “Omicron” is a faster transmissible, so the number of infected people will rise, and thus the total number of patients who need hospitalization will increase.
Studies on the efficacy of vaccines against the “Omicron” mutant are still insufficient to assess their efficacy against it. However, a large number of specialists are optimistic about the effectiveness of vaccines in at least reducing the severity of infection with this mutant. And immunologist Alessandro Seti of the La Jolla Institute for Immunological Research in California explained that some preliminary experiments show that there is an interaction between T-cells in vaccinated people or those who have previously been infected with corona, and between “Omicron”.
In 1918, a very dangerous flu swept the world, known as the Spanish flu, and led to about 50 million deaths. Over the years, and after three deadly waves of the epidemic, this virus has evolved into less dangerous forms that are today one of the influenza mutant that gives us colds in the winter. Today, some are wondering if it is possible for the Corona epidemic to take a similar direction in light of the preliminary studies on “Omicron”. However, studies on this mutant are still early, and their samples are limited, and this conclusion or comparison cannot be reached yet. In addition, the evolution of viruses is a double-edged sword. Just as a mutant that is less dangerous than others can appear, a dangerous one can suddenly appear that puts vaccines under the microscope and takes us back to the starting point.
The ambition is the same since the first day: to reach herd immunity and limit the spread of the virus as much as possible, and this is only through the means available so far, which are vaccines on the one hand, and precautionary measures as much as possible on the other hand.
Sources:
Ledford, Heidi. “How Severe Are Omicron Infections?” Nature, vol. 600, no. 7890, 2021, pp. 577–578., https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-03794-8.
Kolata, Gina. “How Pandemics End.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 May 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/10/health/coronavirus-plague-pandemic-history.html.

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