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Omicron Variant- Myths And Facts

Our understanding of the B.1.1.529 variation has expanded significantly since it was designated as a Variant of concern and given the moniker Omicron on November 26, 2021. This has allowed us to examine its behaviour and how it impacts individuals and communities over a period of several weeks. Sadly, due to the lack of understanding regarding Omicron, there has been a great lot of conjecture, assumptions, and disinformation spread about the variation, making it difficult for individuals and authorities to make educated judgments about health protection. This has created many myths among public about Omicron.

What Is Omicron Virus?

On the suggestion of WHO's Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution, WHO recognized the variety B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern, naming it Omicron, on November 26, 2021. (TAG-VE). This conclusion was made based on data submitted to the TAG-VE indicating Omicron has many alterations that may affect how it acts, such as how easy it spreads or the degree of sickness it causes. In recent days, public health officials have voiced concerns about a new coronavirus variation that might cause a global rise of COVID-19 infections with "serious implications," according to the World Health Organization. The omicron variant, named after the Greek letter, is the 13th variation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to be given a Greek nomenclature under the World Health Organization's categorization scheme for variants of interest or concern. Several others, including delta, which produced a rise in cases in the United States during the summer, are still listed as variations of concern or interest and have Greek letter names, while others have dropped off and are now designated "variants under monitoring" or "previously monitored variants."

While the World Health Organization (WHO) has used Greek letters for common versions of the virus, it has not done so for the novel variety. Prior to the advent of the new South African variation, the WHO had previously utilized 12 Greek letters. Following Mu, the WHO picked Omicron instead of the letters between Mu and Omicron, Nu or Xi. Nu was rejected by the WHO because it is readily mistaken with the term new. Xi, on the other hand, was rejected since it is a popular Chinese surname shared by many people, including President Xi Jinping.

Can I Be Reinfected With The Omicron Variant Of COVID-19?

According to Reuters, research done in the United Kingdom in mid-December discovered that the chance of COVID reinfection with the omicron variation was more than five times higher than the risk of reinfection with the delta variant. There was no proof, according to the study conducted by Imperial College in London, that omicron's severity differed from that of Delta. Some academics, however, argued that it was vital not to overinterpret the findings because there wasn't yet enough evidence to make a definitive conclusion. It has also been found that the majority of COVID reinfections now being detected in the United States are in people who had previously had a different strain of the virus.

Does The Omicron Variant Of COVID-19 Take Away Taste And Smell?

Loss of taste or smell used to be a dead giveaway that you weren't sick with a cold or flu and were almost probably infected with COVID-19. It was also discovered to be one of the symptoms that lasted the longest, frequently weeks or months after someone otherwise recovered. However, the omicron form appears to be distinguishing itself from previous variations by sparing more people's senses of taste and smell. According to one report issued Friday by the United Kingdom's Health Security Agency, loss of smell or taste happened in almost 13% of omicron cases documented by the country's National Health Service. The U.K. Health Department discovered that loss of smell or taste occurred in around 34% of persons infected with the delta strain.

A previous – and much smaller – case study published late last year in Norway discovered fewer cases of omicron-related smell and taste loss. The study examined at an omicron epidemic that was linked back to a vaccinated Christmas party. Twelve percent of the 81 infected persons reported diminished smell and 23 percent reported impaired taste. Only three patients reported losing taste or smell among the 43 initial omicron cases detected in the United States in early December, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, while taste and smell loss are still possible with the omicron type, it is less prevalent than with previous forms. According to a study of 27 medical studies, roughly 48 percent of infected persons with the original version of COVID-19 reported loss of taste or smell.

Experts say the tests are vital in the battle against the pandemic's latest huge omicron wave. The FDA has issued a caution that nasal swab tests may be less sensitive to the coronavirus' omicron form in the early stages of illness. Experts claim fast antigen testing can detect omicron and help reduce its spread. Just know when and how to utilize them. These assays evaluate the viral proteins in SARS-Cov-2 that rise when the virus multiplies in the body. So fast tests only detect infections when the virus multiplies. Luckily, that period of time corresponds with the most infectious period.

Dr. John Wherry of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine said the fast tests catch up on when you are most infectious. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, on the other hand, seek the virus itself. So they might be able to identify the infection early. So PCRs may identify tiny levels long after a person is no longer infectious. You may be more likely to get COVID-19 if you recently acquired symptoms or were exposed to someone with the virus. Due to restricted appointment availability and lengthy PCR findings, you may be best suited to perform a home test. When persons have symptoms, nasal swabs can accurately detect infections caused by the coronavirus delta variant. With omicron, however, many patients report testing negative within a few days of exposure, even when they have symptoms. Recent research found a two-day lag between a positive PCR and a positive antigen test in a small cohort of omicron-infected persons.

Regardless of the test, saliva was proven to be a stronger indication of the virus than nasal swabs. Omicron replicates in the neck or upper trachea, while delta replicates in the nasal cavity (which is also why one of the most common symptoms is a sore throat.) Using the nasal swabs provided in the fast test kits on the back of your throat to collect a saliva sample has been suggested by several specialists. Anecdotally, throat swabs can be positive but nose samples are negative when obtained at the same time

Are People Sooner Contagious With The Omicron Variant Than With Earlier Variants Of COVID-19?

Although it is unclear at this time, some preliminary research shows that people may become infectious more quickly than they did with prior variations — maybe within a day after infection. Individuals infected with the coronavirus are most infectious in the few days before and after symptoms appear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

This is because omicron tends to develop symptoms sooner than prior forms — on average, three days after infection, according to preliminary investigations. According to prior research, patients infected with omicron might become infectious as quickly as a day after infection. People become infectious two to four days after infection with prior versions. People are infectious for a few days after their symptoms have subsided. Researchers believe it's too soon to tell if omicron's shortened incubation time translates into earlier contagiousness. It would, however, assist to explain the variant's quick dissemination.

Conclusion

It is critical to remember that we still have a long way to go until the pandemic is over. Although we are now reporting fewer hospitalizations and deaths across the Region, we are dealing with a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. Even though Omicron is gaining popularity in the Region, the Delta variation is still responsible for the bulk of current COVID-19 cases, which is known to cause serious sickness and mortality. In nations where Omicron is becoming or has been the prevalent variation, COVID-19 instances are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days, with hospitalizations skyrocketing as a result. Furthermore, misinformation and deception contribute to mistrust. This jeopardizes health and life, erodes faith in science, institutions, and healthcare systems, and impedes pandemic response. When ignorance and deception collide with evidence-based research, another person is prevented from making the best decisions for their health.

About The Authors

Suleman Shah

Suleman Shah - Suleman Shah is a researcher and freelance writer. As a researcher, he has worked with MNS University of Agriculture, Multan (Pakistan) and Texas A & M University (USA). He regularly writes science articles and blogs for science news website immersse.com and open access publishers OA Publishing London and Scientific Times. He loves to keep himself updated on scientific developments and convert these developments into everyday language to update the readers about the developments in the scientific era. His primary research focus is Plant sciences, and he contributed to this field by publishing his research in scientific journals and presenting his work at many Conferences. Shah graduated from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Pakistan) and started his professional carrier with Jaffer Agro Services and later with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Pakistan. His research interest compelled and attracted him to proceed with his carrier in Plant sciences research. So, he started his Ph.D. in Soil Science at MNS University of Agriculture Multan (Pakistan). Later, he started working as a visiting scholar with Texas A&M University (USA). Shah’s experience with big Open Excess publishers like Springers, Frontiers, MDPI, etc., testified to his belief in Open Access as a barrier-removing mechanism between researchers and the readers of their research. Shah believes that Open Access is revolutionizing the publication process and benefitting research in all fields.

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