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Omicron: attention to symptoms and measures to stop WHO VdP

A Omicron continues to spread rapidly around the world and is already the cause of Covid-19 in more than 42 countries. Russia, Argentina, Nepal and Thailand are among the last nations to register the first cases of the new “Variant of Concern” (VdP) in the list of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The latest VdP from SARS-CoV-2 it was first identified in South Africa and, in just over two weeks, it has spread far beyond Africa, with cases already confirmed in Asia, Europe and America.

Despite mild symptoms provoked, this VdP has been causing fear due to rapid spread and because we are on the verge of the Christmas season, traditionally marked by many traveling people.

In an attempt to contain the threat of a variant still of unknown severity in addition to the apparent increased transmission, many governments decided to close borders mainly to African countries and tightened restrictions to stop the current pandemic outbreak.

With many of those infected with this new variant turning out to be asymptomatic, what are the main symptoms generated by Ómicron and which must be taken into account:

  • Tiredness;
  • Small irritation in the throat;
  • Headaches;
  • mild fever;

A small proportion of patients diagnosed with Omicron in South Africa have high fever, recurrent cough and loss of taste or smell. The most severe symptoms are mostly seen in people not vaccinated against Covid-19.

WHO still there is no record of any deaths related to the Omicron variant.

Specialists recommend that you plan your scheduled trips very well so as not to be interrupted due to restrictions in each country or by a possible quarantine or confinement that may be imposed suddenly.

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The two questions that every traveler must ask themselves are:

  • Can this trip be postponed?
  • what is the flexibility for possible mishaps?
  • Is the travel budget sufficient for a possible increase in costs?

Discovery

A variant called B.1.1.529 was discovered by the investigator Rachel Viana on November 19, from a sample collected ten days earlier, and was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the 24th of November.

It was designated, two days later, as “Concern Variant” (VdP) mainly due to the rapid propagation verified and the many mutations found. Integrating this list has been renamed as Omicron.

The Group of Technical Consulting for the Evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus of the WHO (TAG-VE, in the English-speaking acronym), bringing together a network of WHO reference laboratories to study Covid-19, has been intensively researching the new variant, having found a series of mutations, including in the S protein or “spike” (spicule), responsible for the infection of cells.

Researchers around the world are also studying the Omicron, in terms of transmissibility, seriousness of infections and verified symptoms, reaction to vaccines, diagnostic tests and ongoing treatments.

The conclusions are still scarce, suggest a greater ability to re-infect who already had Covid-19 than the previous variants, but, according to the WHO, do not justify the blocking of trips.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, he even mentioned that a “travel apartheid” against certain African countries, aiming above all at the one that identified the Omicron and who shared the data with the rest of the world.

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WHO calls on different countries to share data from their hospitalized “covid patients” to speed up knowledge of Omicron and recommends citizens to elementary measures to contain the infection:

  • social distance of at least one meter;

  • use of approved masks;

  • regular ventilation of enclosed spaces;

  • avoid crowded spaces;

  • wash your hands regularly;

  • coughing or sneezing protecting yourself with your elbow or a handkerchief;

  • vaccinate yourself as fast as possible.

Preliminary data suggest an increased risk of reinfection compared to previous VdP, but there is still no clear conclusion of this threat. Vaccines are still considered effective and PCR tests detect Omicron.

It is not clear that the new variant causes more serious illness than previous ones, including Delta. Preliminary data shows only an increase in hospitalizations, particularly in South Africa.

Two years of SARS-CoV-2

For about two years we have been living around the world with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of Covid-19. Over this time, this last family member coronavirus it has infected more than 263 million people across the planet, driven by at least five VdP.

In each infected organism, replicas are produced and propagated, which allows the virus to adapt and evolve from the original that caused the pandemic.

At least since September 2020 there are variants that concern health experts due to the potential of being more resistant or causing a more severe form of Covid-19.

But what are the Covid-19 virus variants after all?

Viruses, in general, start by infecting a host and then replicating, that is, producing copies of themselves.

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Most viruses are made up of RNA, a genetic material, for example, more unstable than DNA. This characteristic makes it more likely to undergo changes over time, slightly modifying the respective genetic sequence.

Sequence alterations are known as genetic mutations. Viruses with mutations are called strains or variants.

Some of the mutations may not change the properties of the virus, others may even be harmful to the viruses themselves, but some may end up allowing a “selective advantage” and even making the virus more “friendly” to the host and making it benign.

In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, the WHO has classified as “Variants of Concern” (VdP) those that have the potential to cause serious infections or to spread more easily. kept under close surveillance.

Find out what the current SARs-CoV-2 “Variants of Concern” are:

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