With the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant by South African scientists, which has caused mass panic around the world, resulting in several countries imposing travel bans on South Africa and several southern African countries, the spread of misinformation and fake news from Western media continues to impede efforts to understand and contain the new variant, which according to the World Health Organization is highly transmissible.
So here are seven things you should know about Omicron right now.
The variant was discovered by South African scientists but is not indigenous to South Africa.
On November 24, the B.1.1.529 variant, also known as Omicron, was reported to the WHO from South Africa. The new coronavirus strain was designated as a "variant of concern" by WHO, and was named "omicron" after a letter in the Greek alphabet.
According to reports, South African scientists discovered more than 30 mutations in the spike protein, a component of the virus that aids in the coronavirus's ability to infect human cells.
Risk of reinfection has increased.
Preliminary evidence suggests that this variant has a higher risk of reinfection than other VOCs (Volatile organic compounds). According to scientists, this variant has a large number of mutations.
Are there any early indications that this variant will cause different symptoms or a more severe disease?
There is currently no evidence of clinical differences. According to research by Prof Wolfgang Preiser, Cathrine Scheepers, Jinal Bhiman, Marietjie Venter, and Tulio de Oliveira, cases of B.1.1.529 infection have increased rapidly in Gauteng, where the country's fourth pandemic wave appears to be beginning.
The World Health Organization warns against imposing travel restrictions too quickly.
The WHO has warned countries against imposing travel restrictions too quickly, advising them to take a "risk-based and scientific approach."
Can Omicron be detected using PCR tests?
Existing tools, however, should continue to be effective in preventing Omicron, as PCR tests appear to detect the variant, according to the WHO.
Is the existing Covid-19 vaccine effective against the new variant?
Scientists know that Omicron is genetically distinct from previous variants, including the Beta and Delta variants, but they don't know if these genetic changes make it more transmissible or dangerous. Thus far, There is no evidence that the variant leads to more severe disease.
When did the first instance of the new variant become known?
The earliest known case of the Omicron variant was on November 9, according to the WHO, and the mutation was first detected on November 24 in South Africa, which has an advanced detection system.
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