Spending approximately two years into this pandemic claimed more than five million deaths and affected billions more. People everywhere are finding it hard to deal with another pandemic. The current situation of the United States is a grim picture of the country where the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly. It is warning the world not to neglect the safety measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, sanitation, vaccination, and reducing traveling.
Following the arrival of the new variant, scientists worldwide are working hard enough to know more about the variant and the potential threats that it can pose.
Before we get deep into this topic, let take quick knowledge about the new omicron variant.
What do we know about the Omicron variant so far?
The Omicron is a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 variant first identified in South Africa. This new variant has been designated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization. It has the potential to impact how easily the virus can mutate between people or how sick it can make them and its potential to evade current tests, treatments, vaccines, and other protective measures.
Researchers suggest that this new variant can be more transmissible than the highly infectious Delta virus. The variants of COVID are not found unusual. The more the virus spreads more likely it is to mutate. The growing cases have been reported in 24 countries, including the UK, USA, Germany, and Australia.
The 13th variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus got its Greek name from the World Health Organization as with other variants. Countries worldwide are shutting their international flight to safeguard them from the latest viruses.
Symptoms of the Omicron variant
It is still not clear at this moment whether Omicron makes people sicker than other variants, such as Delta. The South African scientist who first spotted the new variant in the patients said the patients that they are observing with COVID caused by Omicron are only mildly affected.
But there are reports that the number of hospitalizations in South Africa, a relatively high number of cases, and low vaccination levels has increased significantly since the beginning of November.
According to some studies, symptoms of Omicron are much milder than the other strains. But this variant does not affect the smell or taste of the people like previous variants. Some common symptoms may include fever, headaches, scratchy throats, congestion, body ache, and runny nose.
Is the Omicron variant the end of the COVID pandemic?
With the increasing cases of the current Omicron variant, you may find yourself desperately asking when or even if this pandemic is ever going to end. And the good news is, it will end soon. Experts agree on that. We will not eradicate COVID totally, but it will move from the pandemic phase to the endemic stage.
Endemic means when the virus will keep circulating in parts of the global population for years, but the prevalence and impact will reduce to manageable levels, so it ends up more like the flu than a world-stopping disease.
For an infectious disease to be classified as the endemic phase, the infection rate has to be more or less stable across years, rather than showing unexpected spikes as COVID has been doing. A virus becomes endemic when the reproductive number is stably at one. In simpler words, one infected person, on average, infects one other person. And now we are near that.
The highly contagious virus Omicron may end this pandemic. The Omicron variant means each infected person is infecting more than one other person, resulting in cases exploding worldwide.
Some experts said that they thought the delta variant might represent the last significant act for this pandemic and that we could reach the end of it by 2022.
Is COVID similar to Spanish flu?
Some medical experts say that currently, available evidence suggests that the Omicron variant may turn to be one like Spanish flu that can turn the pandemic into an endemic.
Omicron, the new COVID variant, has some common similarities with another pandemic that hit the world almost 100 years ago. Spanish flu outburst in the year 1918 and infected around 35% of the world population and became endemic by 1920. Approximately one to six percent of the global population was estimated to die due to the infection.
Spanish flu and Coronavirus have a lot in common so far. Based on recent studies, experts predict that Coronavirus might become endemic with the advent of the new Omicron variant. Both waves caused by both Coronavirus and Spanish flu showed a similar infection pattern. While the first wave was mild and the second wave was vast and deadly.
After both the waves, the Spanish flu virus mutated and became so mild that infected people only showed mild symptoms like common flu or cold. Hence, the third wave was softer than the second wave and did not cause much damage.
Some medical experts say that the current evidence shows that the new variant can turn out to be a variant that may bring an end to the pandemic.