What is the Omicron Variant?
The Omicron variant is the mutated SARS-COV-2 virus known to originate from Africa. It is the fifth variant added to the list of variants of concern by the World Health Organization. When a decrease was observed in the number of cases in Africa and an increase was observed again, it was understood that the Omicron (Nu) variant, as a new wave, caused this increase. The Omicron variant, which previously appeared in various cities and countries in Europe, Asia, and Australia, was also detected in Turkey.
The World Health Organization (WHO) published an information text on the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant to member countries. “The potential for the further global spread of Omicron is high,” the text stated. In the information text published by WHO, it was emphasized that Omicron is a different variant with a large number of mutations and that its potential to evade the immune system and be highly contagious is alarming.
What Are the Symptoms of Omicron Variant?
People with the Omicron variant experience a dry cough, high fever, night sweats, body pain, and loss of sense of taste and smell. In addition, unusual symptoms such as extreme fatigue are among the symptoms associated with this variant.
How is the Omicron Variant Transmitted?
The Omicron variant, similar to the previously detected Delta and Mu variants, emerged as a result of some mutations that cause changes in the structure and proliferation ability of the "spike" proteins that allow the virus to attach to target cells. The Omicron variant has become more contagious than other variants because it causes changes in spike proteins targeted by vaccines. The transmission of the virus occurs through breathing, contact with sick people, and contact with the body fluids of sick people, as it was when the pandemic first started.
How to Diagnose t the Omicron Variant?
Commonly used PCR tests can detect COVID-19 infections, including Omicron infection, as we have seen with other variants. Studies are ongoing to determine if it has any effect on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.
Will Each Emerging Variant Become More Dangerous?
The genetic structure of the virus encodes all its parts. It is very important in which region of the virus the changes that emerge with the variants occur. The main change that occurs in the Omicron variant is related to the region where the virus attaches to the body. This caused the virus to stick more easily to the body. Thus, there were concerns that the Omicron variant might lead to a more contagious disease picture than previous versions of the virus. Although there is no long-term study on the mortality rate that Omicron can cause, it is known that it can cause dangerous and deadly results, especially in unvaccinated people, as in other variants of COVID-19. Therefore, there is no scientific data that each emerging variant will be more dangerous.
Are Vaccines Protective?
The Omicron variant has multiple mutations that could make it easier to evade vaccine-generated antibodies. However, its resistance to vaccines is still in the research phase. Looking at the current cases, we can say that vaccines continue to be effective against serious illness and death, and play a critical role in reducing serious illness and loss of life.
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