Everything you need to know about the Omicron COVID-19 variant

Earlier in November 2021, a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus emerged and was named omicron by the World Health Organization (WHO). The World Health Organization had currently listed the omicron as a variant of concern.

Because of its sudden emergence, scientists are just beginning to understand the omicron virus; however,  intense research is rapidly revealing more insight on this variant and how its genetic changes might affect its spread and people who are infected with it.

Here are some questions and answers about the Omicron virus.

Is Omicron more contagious?

Some preliminary evidence has suggested that the omicron variant is more infectious than the Delta variant however, there is no evidence that the standard prevention methods, including vaccination, using a facemask, maintaining social distance, ventilation, and hand-washing is not effective in reducing the risk of infection or transmission so far (Robert Bollinger, M.D., M.P.H.).

Is Omicron a more severe COVID-19 illness?

Currently, there is very limited data to back this up.

Does the omicron variant show up on COVID tests?

The accessible commercial diagnostic PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and antigen COVID tests still seem to work to detect the omicron variant.

Is any of the current antiviral drugs reducing the effect of omicron?

Many antiviral drugs work by impeding a virus’ ability to make or reproduce itself in the human body.

Continued studies of the Omicron variant will divulge more about these mutations and the possible effect the drugs may have on their viral counterpart.

Tools for fighting Omicron

Vaccines

Tools for fighting Omicron

Vaccines

Vaccines are one of the best-known health measures to safeguard people from COVID-19, slow the pace of transmission of the virus, and help in the reduction of the likelihood of new variants to emerge. COVID-19 vaccines are said to be highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Even though scientists are currently investigating Omicron, including how protected fully vaccinated people will be against infection, hospitalization, and death.

 Health bodies like the CDC have recommended that anybody of 5 years and older should protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated.

It is also recommended that every one of ages 18 years and older get a booster shot at least two months after taking their J&J/Janssen vaccine or six months after completing their primary vaccination series of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

Wearing Of Masks For protection against all Covid variants.

We continue to recommend wearing a facemask in public indoor settings, in areas of significant or high community transmission, regardless of your or their vaccination status. You could either wear a cloth mask or a disposable mask. Ensure masks are properly disposed of and avoid excessively wearing a mask after two days.

Testing

Taking Covid tests would inform you if you are currently infected with COVID-19. The two types of tests used to test for current infection is nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests.

Individuals can also use the COVID-19 Viral Testing Tool to help deduce what kind of test to explore. However, additional tests may be needed to deduce if your infection was caused by Omicron. You can always check out your state, tribal, local, or territorial health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing.

We also recommend you carry out self-tests as they can be used at home or anywhere and they produce rapid results. If your self-test comes put positive, stay home or isolate for 10 days, wear a mask if you have contact with others, and ensure you speak with your healthcare provider. We have some self-test kits here.

Have any questions about your self-test result? Speak with your healthcare provider or public health department.

Until we know more about the danger of Omicron, it is crucial to use all tools available to protect yourself and others.

Test result provided by PHE/CQC approved UKAS accredited, ISO 15189 2012 Laboratory.
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