Covid: Omicron variant, what do we know

Covid: Omicron variant, what do we know

Although nothing certain can be said yet about the risks of the Omicron variant, the WHO defines the danger of contagions as very high

Covid-19 confronts us with the problem of complexity day after day. There are things that we do not know, that we will know over time, that require us to be very careful with evaluations and do not allow certainties.

Therefore, when it comes to the Omicron variant, caution is needed. There is not yet enough knowledge to chart the future of the infection. However, there is one fact: the World Health Organization defines the danger that there is a rise in infections linked to this mutation of the virus very high. therefore the attention, as it should be, is very high all over the world.

But certainly nothing can be said for certain either about the risk that the disease induced by this particular viral strain is more serious than what has been observed up to now or whether vaccines are not able to offer protection. In short, we must wait for science to make its path of knowledge.

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The characteristics of the variant

Above all, there is one element to warn. The Omicorn variant is known to be characterized by a high number of mutations, probably the highest seen to date. What does this mean in practice? This is the question that arises, even if it is suspected that this variant, which has entered the VoC list, has characteristics of mutations that place it under close observation by the health authorities.

The acronym VoC, unlike the voI (stands for variant of interest), in fact indicates that it is a variant that causes concern. Technically it is characterized by the acronym B.1.1.529 and to characterize it is precisely the number of mutations, higher than what has been observed up to now.

There are some that have already been identified in the genetic heritage of already known viruses, while others are completely new so it is not known what the possible repercussions could be both on the ability to transmit the virus and on the symptoms of the disease (in this sense it must be said that from the observations coming from South Africa it seems that the symptoms may even be milder and in any case different from the currently dominant Delta) and, precisely, on the response to vaccines which remain the most effective defense weapon we have, together with the measures spacing and use of masks. Therefore neither the recommendations to vaccinate nor the advice to limit possible infections must change.

Science and health care are continuing to observe how the virus can “transform”, in the hope of controlling the evolution of the situation and that vaccines are still able to protect against severe forms of disease even if induced by variants.

How to behave

According to the experts present at the Congress of the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases (SIMIT), it is now more important than ever to get vaccinated against the Sars-CoV-2 virus, with the booster of the third dose to complete the cycle.

Also and above all in the light of the presence of this variant, characterized by 32 mutations of the spike protein that represents the goal of the response induced by vaccination to protect us. (the part of the virus that vaccines use to trigger the immune system against Covid) made the appointment even more meaningful. “This situation further highlights the importance of the vaccination campaign – is the opinion of Claudio Mastroianni, Vice President of SIMIT.

Anticipating the third dose at the end of the fifth month from the second is corrected for the drop in immune protection that occurs starting from the fourth month; the booster dose is then essential for frail, elderly subjects, subjects with comorbidities and immunocompromised ones. A high circulation of the virus, in fact, can favor mutations and therefore variants, just as happened with the omicron, which emerged in South Africa, where the vaccination rate is very low, just 25-30%.

While waiting to better define the level of transmissibility, pathogenicity and immune escape of this new variant, it remains essential to carry out the third dose, which is the main strategy we have to counter the spread of this as well as other variants that may emerge “. If necessary, and with due time, it is then possible to think about updating the RNA-Messenger vaccines on the basis of any new indications.

Category: Health
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