The Director of the Allergy, Immunology and Cell Biology Unit of Sri Jayewardenepura University Dr. Chandima Jeewandara has revealed seven key factors on the newly detected COVID-19 variant, Omicron.
He said the factors, including transmissibility, are based on the recent findings of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the new variant.
Omicron which was first detected in South Africa has now been detected in over 10 countries.
Following are the seven key factors on the latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron:
- Transmissibility: It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta.
- The severity of disease: It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.
- Effectiveness of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection: Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern.
- Effectiveness of vaccines: Vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating virus, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death. (More research underway)
- Effectiveness of current tests: The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to assess any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.
- Effectiveness of current treatments: Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19. Other treatments will be assessed to see if they are still as effective given the changes to parts of the virus in the Omicron.
- Actions are taken by Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit: Enhancing surveillance and sequencing of cases. (NewsWire)