Omicron probably indicates Covid is now endemic: 3 things experts say on this new variant
The entire picture of new Covid variant omicron is not yet clear as studying the cases will take some time, but from the information available so far, scientists and experts in India are gauging the possible extent of the impact of the variant. The variant has not been confirmed in India, though Karnataka has raised alarm on Monday over a Covid case reported in a 63-year-old South African person. Karnataka health minister said the variant pattern is not matching with Delta. Apart from Karnataka, some cases in Maharashtra are also being closely watched.
Here are 3 things that experts are guessing about Omicron:
Very good at spreading
Immunologist Satyajit Rath told news agency PTI that he guesses the variant will be spreading very fast. Public policy expert Chandrakant Lahariya explained that Omicron has around 50 mutations, which potentially make the variant more transmissible. Out of these 50 mutations, 32 are in spike proteins, which the virus uses to enter the human cells, and 10 are mutations of high relevance. "These include H655Y, N679K and P681H mutations which potentially increase the transmissibility. The mutations R203K and G204R are being considered to be associated with higher infectivity. Similarly, there are deletions at NSP6, which could result in immune escape," Lahariya said.
Not severe disease
Satyajit Rath told PTI that according to his understanding, the variant will not cause a more severe disease. The effectiveness of vaccines may get reduced by the new variant, but they will not be rendered ineffective by the variant.
Possible indication that Covid is becoming endemic
Director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr Shekhar C Mande, told news agency ANI that the new variant and the situation is concerning but not alarming. Indicating that this might be a sign that Covid is now endemic, Dr Mande said, "If you look at the history of all the infectious diseases, it does happen that viral disease, particularly initially, causes pandemics and over a period of time they become endemic." Endemic means when a disease or infection keep coming every year, but in a milder form.
(With agency inputs)