On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization identified another variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, B.1.1.529, known as Omicron. The variant was first identified in Botswana and South Africa then caused an alarming surge in new cases in more than 110 countries worldwide.
According to scientists, the variant is a product and combination of more than 50 mutations, and such mutations are in the spike protein, relating to how the virus is spread. Alongside continuous research, the increase of cases due to Omicron increase is causing fear and uncertainty.
Compared to the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, the Omicron variant will likely spread more quickly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC expects that anyone who has this can spread the virus to others, whether vaccinated or not.
Aside from the increase in cases, the highly contagious variant also resulted in high demand for COVID-19 testing. Everyone who has been exposed to the virus experiencing symptoms, and waiting for a Covid-19 test result, is advised to stay at home and isolate themselves from others.
The symptoms of Omicron are mild compared to the other variants, and such symptoms include runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing, and sore throat. However, the public must still maintain strict health and safety protocols.
Fully jabbed individuals can still be infected. Hence, everyone is at risk, whether vaccinated or not. For people who think they contracted the variant, take a lateral flow test or a rapid antigen test. If individuals tested positive through an LFT, a confirmatory PCR test will not be needed in the UK.
As the world is still fighting COVID-19, now is not the time to take it easy. It is essential to remember that prioritizing health and following safety protocols can minimize the risk of acquiring the virus and the Omicron variant.
If you want to learn more about the Omicron variant, read this infographic from Harley Medic International.