Dr Ibn Saja
Omicron variant of SARS CoV - 2 virus first detected in S. Africa in the last week of Nov 2021 has been declared as a 'Variant of Concern' by World Health Organisation (WHO). Early studies suggest that this variant is milder than Delta variant, which was first detected in India during summers of this year. Nevertheles, there should not be a complacency about Omicron Variant since its transmission rate is higher and data about its nature is not fully available.
About 2 million lives had been lost across the world since the beginning of pandemic back in 2019. World is battling with this pandemic for more than two years and how far it shall go, there's much uncertainty. We had lost more people to COVID -19 in 2021 than 2020, despite availability of vaccines and better understanding of the virus.
US and UK are witnessing enormous rise in cases despite the fact that a significant proportion of population is vaccinated. The emergence of multiple variants of SARSCoV-2 is a big challenge and it's linked to transmission, since transmission over a large population increases the rate of mutation (permanent change in viral nucleic acid) in viral genome. Some mutations make virus weak, while others make it difficult for vaccine to neutralize the virus.
It has been seen that immunity against this virus evades after 6 months of immunization, that necessities the role of booster jabs.
There is inequity in the distribution of vaccines. Just 8% population of Africa has been vaccinated. India, the so called 'Pharmacy of world', has much more potential of manufacturing vaccines. Patency of manufacturing giants should be relaxed, so that vaccines can be produced at multiple centres, keeping in view the urgency of situation.
We have seen horrific images during 2nd wave in India. India, a vast country of 1.4 billion people has increased risk of a new wave. The aim of current vaccination in the country is to thwart the third wave. The rate of vaccination must be enhanced.
We are in winters, the risk of infection and transmission is higher.
To prevent emergence of new variants and of course, a new wave ,the public health measures hold the key like,Vaccination, Physical distancing, Wearing mask, avoiding crowds.
Dr Ibn Saja, Medical Graduate from GMC, Sgr