True to the WHO’s declaration about the capability of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant to spread faster
then any previous strain, we are perhaps seeing a similar development here too with many new cases of
the Covid-19 proliferating and emerging from many parts of the country this week.
As of Friday night, the health ministry announced about detecting 141 new cases of Covid-19 (in the last
24 hours). The numbers are only increasing going by the health ministry’s announcements of having
detected 88 new cases on Thursday and 59 new cases on Wednesday.
A respite, for now, based on studies from around the world, is that Omicron is less severe; meaning that
even if we get Omicron, then we are less likely to become seriously ill than with previous variants. Studies
also show that the Omicron is milder than the Delta variant, with a 30% to 70% lower chance of people
infected ending up in hospital.
However, the problem with the Omicron is that it is highly transmissible and infectious. It can cause a
sheer number of cases that can overwhelm unprepared health systems. Further, what is worrying for the
country is that 19.7% of the population is still unvaccinated, including children between five to 11 years
of age, who remained highly susceptible to the infection.
Another difficulty posed by the Omicron is in detecting if we are really infected because the symptoms of
the Omicron appears to be more like a cold for some people, with commonly reported symptoms comprising
a sore throat, runny nose, and a headache.
As it is in the fall and during the winter months when cold and flu infections become more common in the
country, it is important, therefore, for every one of us to get to a flu center and get one tested if one
appears to have such symptoms. We cannot take these symptoms for granted like that of the common cold
and risk transmitting the disease.
Another difficulty posed by the Omicron is that the vaccines alone will not protect countries from Omicron.
This has even been confirmed by the WHO.
While we have 74% of the eligible population (above 12 years) in the country, who have received both
vaccination doses, it is found that the Omicron variant significantly reduces the protection against
infection provided by Pfizer and BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine, and a study also found the Pfizer and
AstraZeneca vaccines are less effective against the Omicron.
However, scientists still affirm that the two-dose vaccines are likely to protect people against severe
disease and that a booster shot provides significant levels of protection against the Omicron infection.
The priority for now, meanwhile, seems to at least prevent the transmission of the virus and expedite the
booster dose vaccination for the remaining population.