Omicron Variant In India: While India has not reported any case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus yet, Dr. Samiran Panda, head of Epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) asserted that the ‘new strain is possibly already in the country and it may be a matter of time before it’s detected’.Also Read - Rajasthan Eases Covid-19 restrictions; Schools To Resume Physical Classes From February 1. Details HERE

Referring to a large number of South African returnees in India, Dr. Samiran Panda while speaking to NDTV said that there may be some symptomatic cases in these passengers as there has been a lot of travel from South Africa since the detection of the first case of Omicron on November 9. “I won’t be surprised if there’s detection in India. It’s just a matter of time, given the high transmissibility that this variant comes with,” the news channel quoted the top government expert as saying. Also Read - COVID Positive Man In Kolkata Donates Body For Medical Research On Infection

Earlier on Monday, the World Health Organisation had raised concern over the Omicron strain saying that it poses a ‘very high‘ risk globally. It had also warned of severe consequences if another major surge of COVID-19 takes place driven by Omicron. “If another major surge of Covid-19 takes place driven by Omicron, consequences may be severe,” WHO stated, adding though that “‘to date, no deaths linked to Omicron variant have been reported.’ Also Read - International Flights: Singapore Airlines Begins Flight Operations From India Through VTL: Check Full Schedule Here

Vaccine Important Tool Against Omicron

The most important tool against this variant is to follow COVID-19 appropriate health guidelines and get vaccinated. Vaccines should provide at least partial protection against progression of the infection to severe COVID, Upasana Ray, a senior scientist at Kolkata’s CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) told news agency PTI.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has said Omicron has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning, said on Monday that it reflects the threat of prolonged vaccine injustice. The longer we take to deliver #VaccinEquity, the more we allow the COVID19 virus to circulate, mutate and become potentially more dangerous.

Omicron: All You Need to Know

The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant.  Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available.

It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta. Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.

There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants. Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks. All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key.