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Can’t dismiss Omicron as mild, can overwhelm hosps, says WHO

HealthCan't dismiss Omicron as mild, can overwhelm hosps, says WHO

Can’t dismiss Omicron as ‘mild’, the high transmission rate can overwhelm hospitals, says a WHO official amid the sudden surge of cases.

Global experts are focusing on inoculating the population as soon as possible. “Countries can and must prevent the spread of Omicron with proven health and social measures. Our focus must continue to be to protect the least protected and those at high risk,” Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region said.

She stressed that the overall threat posed by Omicron largely depends on three key questions – its transmissibility; how well the vaccines and prior SARS-CoV-2 infection protect against it, and how virulent the variant is as compared to other variants.

Though there may be an increase in the number of Omicron cases in India, a vast majority of the cases will be mild in nature, the doctor stated.

World Health Organization (WHO)

In the meantime, the World Health Organization (WHO) granted emergency approval to Covovax, and a top Indian government scientist has recommended that it be used as a booster shot to counter the threat posed by the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Of note, the heavily mutated Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been spreading across the world at a tremendous speed. So far, the variant has been reported in 77 countries, faster than any other strain, as per the World Health Organization (WHO).

Omicron appears to spread faster than the Delta variant which wreaked havoc in early 2021, the Regional Director added.

ICU beds, oxygen

Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh also mentioned that there is an increased risk of re-infection with Omicron and there is still limited data on the clinical severity associated with Omicron, more information is needed to fully understand the clinical picture of those infected with Omicron.

She said that Omicron should not be dismissed as mild, even if it does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm health systems. Hence, health care capacity including ICU beds, oxygen availability, adequate health care staff, and surge capacity needs to be reviewed and strengthened at all levels, Singh added.

Anurag Agrawal, one of the directors of the government’s genome sequencing monitoring agency INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium) told India Today that Covovax “induces a strong immune response and has an excellent safety profile.”

Covovax is the Indian version of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax Inc and manufactured under license by the Serum Institute of India (SII). It is a recombinant protein vaccine that uses spike proteins to teach the body how to develop immunity against the novel coronavirus.

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