India has managed to keep the covid scare in check over the past few months. This is majorly due to the huge success of the vaccination drive. Over 1.22 billion people have been vaccinated in India thus far and this has majorly helped to halt the spread of the covid pandemic in the country. There has been some reason for cheer, as even after the festive season, a surge in the cases has not been reported. In fact, the number of cases is dropping in all parts of the country and that is a massive cause for celebration. Sadly though, the emergence of the new covid strain, the Omicron, has forced everyone to stop and take a step back. Reportedly, this is a very dangerous strain of the covid virus and has the potential to spread very quickly, causing the dreaded and much anticipated third wave in India.
Omicron – The symptoms
The symptoms reported in the patients with the Omicron variant are similar to those of the previous variants. In fact, the symptoms are said to be milder. The common symptoms of
Omicron strains are:
- Extreme fatigue
- Scratchy throat
- Mild fever
- Dry cough
- Body pain
These are all the common flu-like symptoms. The good news here is that the symptoms reported are very mild and do not cause too much trouble to the patients.
A very positive aspect here is that the symptoms of the Omicron are very mild and do not cause the other complications associated with covid such as breathlessness, a drop in oxygen levels, high-grade fever, etc. The medical fraternity is relieved as the more severe complications have the potential to turn fatal, while the mild symptoms often even warrant a hospital stay.
Omicron – The treatment
Thus far, most people who got the Omicron strain of the coronavirus, have recuperated at home without any special treatment. Some people, especially those with comorbidities and elderly people, have required hospitalisation. The common medicines used in the treatment of covid are expected to be effective against the new strain as well.
However, as there is not enough clarity on the variant yet, the doctors in India are still waiting for a global roadmap. The World Health Organisation (WHO), has not yet made any declaration about the possibility of a new course of treatment. However, research is in full swing. Experts around the world feel that though transmissible, the Omicron variant is not deadlier or more dangerous than any previous strain.
Testing for the Omicron variant
The RT-PCR test is a very good way to detect the Omicron variant. However, since the symptoms are relatively mild, many people are not getting tested for the ailment. This is a dangerous practice. If you feel you have the slightest symptoms, isolate yourself and get tested.
Measures by the government in India
Recently, a person returning from South Africa has tested positive for covid. However, it isn’t clear yet whether or not he has the Omicron variant.
The government is taking all the precautions to ensure the virus does not spread and cause the widespread damage it did twice in the past. The vaccination drive is being amplified and the authorities are ensuring that every single adult, over the age of 18, is being vaccinated without fail.
Stricter laws are being brought up for defaulters. Also, the norms related to social distancing, masking and sanitisation are being tightened. The government is not leaving any stone unturned.
Effectiveness of the covid vaccine against the Omicron variant
Even while the world awaits more clarity on the situation, experts and researchers are confident that the vaccines will be effective against the Omicron variant too. Representatives from Pzier, Moderna and AstraZeneca have given statements and asked the people to stay calm, assuring them that the vaccines have been designed keeping in mind the possibility of future mutations.
However, the medical experts are still not a hundred per cent convinced about this. They have approached the ‘wait-and-watch’ approach, as only time will tell whether or not the vaccines are effective.
The final word
The Omicron variant hasn’t yet reached India in a large way, though many experts believe there is a high possibility that the strain is already here. This is because the travel bans were eased and many people travelled to and from the different parts of the world over the last few days, including South Africa.
In light of this, extreme care and protection must be taken at every step. Aggressive testing, isolation and social distancing should be done at all times. Travel restrictions should also be brought back in force till the variant is controlled. Doing so will prevent the transmission of the disease and stop a huge surge from taking place in India. The fight is one and we can only hope for the best!