New Delhi: Omicron continues to be a variant of concern, and WHO is tracking Omicron in several sub-lineages. The most prominent ones that are detected worldwide are BA.1, BA.1.1 and BA.2, said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO COVID-19 Technical Lead. There is no reported difference in severity between two of the sub-lineages of Omicron variant – BA.2 and BA.1, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO). In an online question and answer session, Dr Kerkhove said,
Is BA.2 sufficiently different? Certainly, genomically – in the genome is different. Is BA.2 behaving differently than BA.1? It is more transmissible, yes. But in terms of severity, we aren’t seeing that and that is really critical.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 22, 2022
Based on the data from genome sequencing around the world, Dr Kerkhove clarified that Omicron is a variant of concern that is dominant worldwide and has replaced Delta at a global level in terms of what is being shared.
WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is of the opinion that based on available data of transmission, severity, reinfection, diagnostics, therapeutics and impacts of vaccines, BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron should continue to be considered a variant of concern and should remain classified as Omicron.
In an official statement on Omicron sub-lineage BA.2, WHO specified that studies are evaluating the risk of reinfection with BA.2 compared to BA.1. Reinfection with BA.2 following infection with BA.1 has been documented, however, initial data from population-level reinfection studies suggest that infection with BA.1 provides strong protection against reinfection with BA.2, at least for the limited period for which data are available.
Many countries have passed their peak, but not all countries have passed their peak. Omicron is less severe than Delta, but it is not a mild virus. This is a dangerous virus and there are still some countries that are seeing overwhelmed hospital system. At a global level, almost 68,000 people were reported to have died last week. That is a decrease from the week before. But again, I want to caution on this because we know some countries haven’t reported their deaths yet to us. We have to look at these with caution because testing strategies have changed drastically in countries, said Dr Kerkhove.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.