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Coronavirus Outbreak

Omicron In India: What Can We Learn From The Variant Spread In The UK?

“Even if mild, the sheer number of cases of Omicron is straining healthcare system in UK,” says Professor Lawrence Young, virologist and professor at the Warwick Medical School

Omicron In India: What Can We Learn From The Variant Spread In The UK?
Very early indications and experts have suggested that Omicron is a milder variant if you compare it with the Delta

New Delhi: The Omicron variant is continuously increasing transmission among people in the UK. The UK reported 98,515 COVID-19 fresh cases and 143 deaths in the past 24 hours on Monday. The country in the past seven days has recorded 763,295 infections and 742 deaths, according to the official data released by the UK government. In the wake of the rising cases, the National Health Service in the UK has said that all adults are now eligible to book a COVID-19 booster dose. The booster helps give you longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19, NHS added.

Professor Lawrence Young, Virologist and Professor at the Warwick Medical School tells NDTV about what we can learn from the Omicron cases in the UK.

We have learnt that the variant is extremely infectious and spreading at an alarming rate within the UK. About one in 45 of our adult population is now infected with Omicron variant, so it is extremely infectious. We have, in the last, reported the highest levels of infection across the UK we’ve ever seen – more than 119,000 cases in 24 hours so it’s really spreading very rapidly.

Also Read: Covid Curbs: Schools, Cinemas, Gyms Shut In Delhi, Shops In Malls To Operate On Odd-Even Basis

Very early indications and experts have suggested that Omicron is a milder variant if you compare it with the Delta. We asked Professor Young if this would be a correct assessment, he said,

So the early data coming out, based on relatively low numbers, suggest that fewer people are needing a hospital treatment with Omicron compared with other variants. This is varying levels, but it looks like around 50 per cent less dangerous in terms of severe disease than Delta variant. But all this data is based predominantly on people under the age of 40, these are not older people because the viruses just started spreading to the older population. We know that the most severe consequences of coronavirus infection are found in older individuals and also these individuals also don’t respond well to vaccines. So even though this is a good news and it is telling us as a whole, that the Omicron variant is milder than Delta. We still think there are so many people going to be infected that the sheer number of cases will inevitably result in some people getting sick and that number of people will put significant strain on our healthcare systems in the UK.

When it comes to the booster doses and its ability to work, Professor Young says that all the data that has come across suggest that boosters do work.

One of the problems we do know with the current vaccines is that after a period of time, the protective immune response decays, particularly in the elderly and vulnerable. So it is important to top up body’s immune response. We think if you do that booster shot, the data suggests it will give you something like 85 per cent protection from getting infection and developing severe disease. So booster shots seem to be very essential, that is rolled out in as many countries as possible.

Omicron In New Delhi

Cases of Omicron in Delhi have shot up from two to three per cent to 25 to 30 per cent of Covid cases in a span of two weeks, a genome sequencing lab in Delhi that’s part of INSACOG has said.

Dr Pramod Gautam, the genome analyst at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences or ILBS said,

Omicron cases are increasing without a doubt. Two weeks ago some 2-3 per cent of the samples we sequenced were positive for Omicron, but now 25-30% of cases are Omicron.

He, however, added that the increase in percentage may also be due to more rigorous sequencing, since the labs were only sequencing international travellers initially. The ILBS is currently running genome analysis for every positive sample from South Delhi district. The lab also analyses a chunk of positive samples from four other districts.

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 populationindigenous 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 (WaterSanitation 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 pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual 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.

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