WHO’s Dr Soumya Swaminathan Warns Against New COVID-19 Variant Omicron

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There have been many reports of the new COVID-19  Omicron variant which has also been called “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation.

According to a report by NDTV, Dr Soumya Swaminathan said that the new variant can be a wake-up call for the people to resume the COVID appropriate behaviour in India. She stressed on the need for everyone to wear masks and called it “vaccines in your pockets”. She also gave suggestions to prevent the spread of the said virus such as avoiding mass gatherings, wider genome sequencing, fully vaccinating all adults, closely monitoring rise in COVID-19 positive cases among some other situations.

She said, “We need a science-based strategy to battle ‘Omicron’.” The Chief Scientist added that the said variant could be more transmissible than the delta variant although nothing can be said authoritatively yet. She added that more information will come out in the next few days. In potential, Omicron variant has been called potentially more contagious than previous variants of the COVID-19. According to a report by Reuters, the experts are yet to say whether the strain will cause more or less severe COVID-19 infection.

Ever since the reports were confirmed, the global has been seen in travel restrictions and dip in financial markers. Many have expressed concerns if the new variant will again stop the economic recovery from the last two years of the pandemic.

Swaminathan said that there is a need for more studies to identify the characteristics of the new variant. She said that vaccination of adults continues to be a priority and the public health measures implemented in the wake of the pandemic should remain in place. She pointed out that the Omicron variant has large number of mutations and that the world still has not reached vaccine equity.
Genome sequencing – the process of finding out the genetic makeup of an organism – will remain important in the fight against Covid, she said.

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