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Table of Contents
SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 35-36

Omicron Variant of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2: Necessity to Strengthen Public Health and Social Measures


1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth—Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth—Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission07-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance10-Dec-2021
Date of Web Publication8-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV)—Deemed to be University, Thiruporur–Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District 603108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/AMJM.AMJM_50_21

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  Abstract 

The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to be one of the global public health emergencies and interrupts the routine lives of humans. Omicron has been identified as the most recent variant of concern by the World Health Organization, and it has been detected first from the samples reported in South Africa. This variant has been found to have genetic changes that can influence the virus attributes (such as transmissibility, the severity of resulting illness, or limitations in terms of diagnosis––the absence of S gene, making it difficult to establish a diagnosis or reduced potency of existing therapeutic drugs) and has the potential to account for significant community transmission. In conclusion, the detection of the omicron variant of COVID-19 definitely calls for attention from international agencies, program managers, public health authorities, and the community. As we continue to get an in-depth understanding of the new variant in the coming days, the need of the hour is to strictly adhere to the public health and social measures at our end.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, omicron, South Africa


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Omicron Variant of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2: Necessity to Strengthen Public Health and Social Measures. Amrita J Med 2022;18:35-6

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Omicron Variant of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2: Necessity to Strengthen Public Health and Social Measures. Amrita J Med [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 May 21];18:35-6. Available from: https://www.ajmonline.org.in/text.asp?2022/18/1/35/344947




  Introduction Top


The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to be one of the global public health emergencies and interrupts the routine lives of humans. In fact, since its detection in 2019, the cumulative total has increased to more than 260 million confirmed cases and the novel viral infection has also been linked with the deaths of more than 5.2 million people due to the disease-related complications across the world.[1]


  COVID-19 Variants Top


Similar to the other virus, even the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus, which is responsible for COVID-19 infection, has demonstrated changes in its structure (viz. mutation).[2] Though most of the reported changes have accounted for minimum or little impact on the virus properties, these changes do play an important role in determining the spread of the virus, the severity of the infection, the diagnostic tools, treatment modalities, the effectiveness of the vaccines, and the various public health and social measures.[2],[3],[4] As of now, the World Health Organization has identified variants of concerns (e.g., alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and omicron) and variants of interests (e.g., lambda and mu).[3],[5]


  Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variant: B.1.1.529 (Omicron) Top


Omicron has been identified as the most recent variant of concern by the World Health Organization, and it has been detected first from the samples reported in South Africa.[5] This variant has been found to have genetic changes that can influence the virus attributes (such as transmissibility, the severity of resulting illness, or limitations in terms of diagnosis––the absence of S gene, making it difficult to establish a diagnosis or reduced potency of existing therapeutic drugs) and has the potential to account for significant community transmission owing to the reduction in the effectiveness of the standard public health interventions.[3],[5] The initial evidence depicts a higher risk of re-infection with omicron when compared with the other identified variants.[5]

This calls for the need that omicron characteristics should be compared with the other variant characteristics, and if found essential, supplementary laboratory investigations should be included in the diagnostic protocol.[3],[5] At the same time, it becomes the responsibility of the reporting nation (South Africa) to share the complete genomic sequence of the virus in a publicly available database, report cases to the international agencies, and carry out the desired laboratory or field assessments to get insights about the variant on the epidemiology of the infection.[5] Further, the World Health Organization should share all the findings with all the nations and bring about changes in the existing guidelines, if required.[3]


  Recommended Measures Top


Acknowledging the potential of the new variant in changing the epidemiology of COVID, a number of recommendations have been proposed for the nations.[3],[4] It is important for the nations to strengthen the ongoing surveillance activities to detect all possible cases, as it will aid in the early identification of the trends or community transmission.[6] In addition, the nations should also augment their genetic sequencing efforts, so that everything about the novel variant can be ascertained. At the community level, each and every individual should strictly adhere to the standard and effective infection prevention and control measures (such as the use of face masks, practicing hand hygiene, physical distancing, improved ventilation, avoiding unnecessary travels or crowded places, and getting vaccinated at their turn).[2],[4],[5]


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, the detection of the omicron variant of COVID-19 definitely calls for attention from international agencies, program managers, public health authorities, and the community. As we continue to get an in-depth understanding of the new variant in the coming days, the need of the hour is to strictly adhere to the public health and social measures at our end.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Weekly Operational Update on COVID-19; 2021. Available from: https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/weekly-epidemiological-update-on-covid-19---30-november-2021. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 7].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Callaway E. Fast-spreading COVID variant can elude immune responses. Nature 2021;589:500-1.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
World Health Organization. Tracking SARS-CoV-2 Variants; 2021. Available from: https://www.who.int/en/activities/tracking-SARS-CoV-2-variants/. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 7].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Kirby T. New variant of SARS-cov-2 in UK causes surge of COVID-19. Lancet Respir Med 2021;9:e20-1.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
World Health Organization. Classification of Omicron (B.1.1.529): SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern; 2021. Available from: https://www.who.int/news/item/26-11-2021-classification-of-omicron-(b.1.1.529)-sars-cov-2-variant-of-concern. [Last accessed on 2021 Dec 7].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
World Health Organization. Guidance for Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 Variants: Interim Guidance. Geneva: WHO Press; 2021. p. 1-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
    




 

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  In this article
Abstract
Introduction
COVID-19 Variants
Severe Acute Res...
Recommended Measures
Conclusion
References

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