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New Covid-19 Variant of Concern- Omicron

Eswatini Daily News
By: Nomzamo Jiyane
01 December 2021

The emergence of the new Covid-19 variant called Omicron has raised alarm across the world, with several countries swiftly moving to imposed travel bans in an effort to clamp down on it’s spread.

The Omicron variant, first described in Botswana, was designated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization. The strain has also been identified in Hong Kong, Australia, Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Israel and South Africa.

It has become the Fourth and latest variant of concern to be categorized as such since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The variant of concern has the potential of increased transmissibility, severity of illnesses or decreased effectiveness of the vaccines, treatment and public health measures according to WHO.

Following are the crucial things we need to know about the new Covid-19 variant:

I. Omicron is a new heavily mutated Corona virus variant also known as B.1.1.529 designated as variant of concern by WHO.

II. The earliest sample was detected on 11 November 2021 in Botswana.

III. Omicron has more than 30 mutations on it’s spike protein (face) that are more than what carried by Delta variant raising concerns, it’s prior infections still provide some immunity.

IV. It’s transmission not yet clear, however within two weeks of it’s detection it has out spaced Delta to become the main strain.

V. It is most likely that available vaccines work against this variant. A crucial objective remains to increase vaccination rate. Should updated vaccine be developed, these will also be used as guided by WHO.

VI. Currently the Dexamethasone drug has been saving lives. There is however very interesting data coming from two antivirals Malnupiravir and Favipiravir.

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