The new vaccine-resistant variant which has the potential to wreak havoc is being investigated by scientists, as a “variant of concern”. The virus was first spotted in South Africa and has now already been detected abroad.
This has thrown the governments into a frenzy, which was just beginning to resume usual air traffic. Many countries have decided to impose a travel ban to curb the risk at hand.
The World Health Organization gives an insight into its preliminary research suggested on Friday that, “an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other [variants of concern].”
The virus has been found ubiquitous in all provinces, and its mutation speed is a cause of worry. Speaking about the virus WHO also shared that the B.1.1.529 variant is growing “at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.”
South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla, addressed the public and said that the experts are concerned about Omicron due to its high number of mutations and the rapid spread that it is having especially amongst young people in Gauteng, which is a densely populated province in the country.
The surge which is currently taking place in the country is being fuelled by the new variant at large. Many other countries after the alert by the South African authorities, also reported the presence of the variant in their countries, such as Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel.
Speaking more about new variants and their development WHO shared that the virus behind the Covid-19 evolves over time, and makes nuanced changes to its structure when they multiply or grow in number, these changed viruses are called ‘variants’ of the original.
The chances of mutation become higher with increasing circulation amongst the population.
Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist at the Queen Mary University of London explained further that some mutations are slightly different from the other, and the vaccine can accommodate them. However when it mutates into a variant with new properties, its ability to cause a major health impact goes up manifold and it becomes a variant of concern.
“The major concerns are that this variant seems to be at least as transmissible as delta, which is very transmissible indeed, and it has a large number of mutations in the crucial spike protein, which is targeted by vaccines,” Dr. Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard, told.