We were recovering from the growing wave of infections that the Delta variant of COVID-19 caused in the world when a new variant emerged that the World Health Organization christened Omicron, and whose first cases were detected in South Africa and Botswana. Comparisons are inevitable: What do these COVID variants have in common?
Although a lot of scientific information is still missing to know how dangerous Ómicron really can be and if it will be as contagious as Delta, experts have already begun to advance some observations as infections progress in different parts of the world.
We know that Delta is a variant as contagious as Ebola or chickenpox, but to know the level of contagion of Ómicron it is necessary to spend a few more days. The Director of Clinical Virology at the Mayo Clinic, Matthew binnicker, told AP that In the next two weeks we will see if Ómicron is contagious enough to replace Delta in the United States..
In South Africa, infections have grown very significantly from an average of 200 new infections per day in mid-November to more than 16,000 daily over the past weekend. In the South African province of Gauteng, Ómicron accounts for 90% of new cases.
Willem hanekom, director of the Africa Health Research Institute, told the news agency that “The virus is spreading extraordinarily fast“, So it could be very transmissible, but you cannot know if it will overtake Delta because in Africa the cases of Delta were very low when it suffered the new variant.
As with Delta, scientists fear that Ómicron could challenge the immunity generated by existing vaccines. And as with Delta what they are observing is that Ómicron appears to infect younger people and those who are not vaccinated.
ANDn South Africa, more cases have been observed in children under five years of age, that they are not eligible to receive any of the available COVID-19 vaccines; however, the cases have been mild. An article by the South African Medical Research Council based on the first observations at the Steve Biko / Tshwane District Hospital Complex in Pretoria notes that the symptoms have been mild, but further observations are still lacking.
Experts insist that, so far, the best protection that adults, youth and children have against Omicron or against Delta is to get fully vaccinated and get the booster dose as soon as possible, as well as maintaining the already known prevention measures: wearing masks, maintaining social distance and avoiding crowds.
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