By now it would not be wrong to say that we all are familiar with the coronavirus and it has impacted all of our lives in one way or the other. Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 was identified in 2019 and has since caused a pandemic of respiratory illness called COVID-19. COVID-19 has since proven to be severe, and has caused millions of deaths around the world as well as lasting health problems in some who have survived the illness. The virus can be spread from person to person and is diagnosed with a laboratory test. Many countries have been providing COVID-19 vaccines in order to protect against this virus. Prevention of this virus involves physical distancing, mask-wearing, hand hygiene and staying away from others if you feel sick. Since the identification of COVID-19 in 2019, the entire World is facing it’s effects. The World went to a complete shutdown, impacting all of us. The people are still facing it’s effects and impacts.
What is the Delta Variant?
The SARS-COV-2 Delta variant was first detected in India in late 2020. The Delta variant was named on 31 May 2021 and had spread to over 179 countries by 22 November 2021. The World Health Organization (WHO) indicated in June 2021 that the Delta variant was becoming the dominant strain globally. It has been said that the Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). This variant is more than 2x as contagious as previous variants. Some data suggest the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous variants in unvaccinated people. Unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern as the greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus. Fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others. However, vaccinated people appear to spread the virus for a shorter time. So it is very much suggested to get vaccinated as they have proven to be highly effective including against the delta variant.
What is the Omicron Variant?
The Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) is a variant of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly than other strains because it has more mutations than any other variant thus far. It has been said that omicron is more likely to cause less severe illness compared to other variants. All of the variants, including Delta and Omicron, cause similar COVID-19 symptoms, including cough, fever and fatigue. There is some evidence that fewer people with Omicron lose their taste and smell. Omicron is also less likely to cause severe disease such as pneumonia that may require treatment in the hospital. In fully vaccinated and/or boosted people, Omicron symptoms tend to be mild. In unvaccinated people, symptoms may be quite severe, possibly leading to hospitalisation or even death. So as before, it is very much suggested to get vaccinated as they have proven to be highly effective including against the delta variant.
How is the Omicron Variant different than the Delta Variant ?
Last year the World experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Delta variant. Now, the World is dealing with the Omicron variant. It has been said that the Omicron Variant is more transmissible, but also more mild than previous iterations of the virus. The differences between the two Omicron and Delta variants may be too subtle to make a determination, there are some differences we can pick up on based on the severity of the illness and your vaccination status. A health insurance company in South Africa, where Omicrom originated, released data suggesting that Omicron causes less severe illness and fewer hospitalizations than previous strains including the Delta variant. Omicron may be less likely to cause loss of taste and smell compared to the Delta Variant. It has been found that the people with Omicron may report nausea and gastrointestinal issues more often than other variants including the Delta Variant. Omicron has a shorter incubation time than the Delta variants. Early research has suggested that Omicron causes less damage to the lungs than the Delta Variant or any other previous variants. Thus, these are some major differences between the Omicron Variant and the Delta Variant.
How can we prevent and protect ourselves from this virus ?
By now we all might have already known the ways to prevent and protect ourselves from the different variants of the Coronavirus, but still the virus does not seem to leave anytime soon. Still some preventive measures are mentioned below:
Follow the ABC’s of the prevention where A refers to Airway meaning to protecting yourself with barrier protection, B refers to bubble which means gathering with people who you trust and C refers to contact which refers to contact tracing.
Reducing the size of your social bubble i.e, keeping a small circle inorder to reduce the transmission of the virus.
Limiting onsite shopping and other outdoor activities that are not so important is another preventive measure.
Wearing a mask when needed when going outdoors and applying hand sanitizer often is also one of the important preventive measures.
Getting vaccinated is the most effective and important preventive measure in order to prevent and protect ourselves from the virus and it’s variants.