As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the travel and airline industry worldwide and we are about to enter the third year of travel turmoil, the prospect of recovery is looking bleak.
Scientists say that omicron’s rapid rise to prominence almost guarantees that it will not be the last coronavirus variant to cause concern. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the sequels of the COVID-19 variant would produce milder sickness or that existing vaccinations will effectively protect against them.
Omicron has an advantage over its predecessors since it spreads more quickly despite the planet’s stronger patchwork of immunity from vaccinations and prior disease. This increases the number of people infected by the virus.
There is no way to predict what the next variants will look like or how the pandemic will unfold, but researchers are urging widespread vaccination while today’s vaccines are still effective.
“The faster omicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants,” says Leonardo Martinez, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University.
Omicron has blazed throughout the globe since it first appeared in mid-November. At least twice as infectious as delta and at least four times as infectious as the original virus variant, research reveals the variant is the most contagious.
When it comes to “breakthrough infections” in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, omicron is more likely than delta to reinfect those who previously had COVID-19 and cause “breakthrough infections.”
World Health Organization data shows a 55 percent spike in new cases of COVID-19, a record-high for the week of January 3-9.
As the virus spreads more readily, it is more likely to infect and persist in people with weakened immune systems, giving it more time to develop potent mutations while keeping relatively healthy people from going to work or school.
A virus’s ability to become increasingly adept at evading immunity aids its long-term survival. No one was immune when SARS-CoV-2 initially appeared. However, because infections and vaccines have provided some immunity to much of the world, the virus must adapt.
When new variants emerge, scientists say it’s still difficult to predict which ones will be dominant based on genetic traits. For example, omicron’s spike protein, which allows it to connect to human cells, contains roughly 30 mutations, far more than earlier versions. There are 46 mutations in the so-called IHU variation discovered in France and is being studied by the WHO.
Experts emphasise public health measures like masks and vaccinations to slow the spread of new variants. A vaccine and booster shots significantly minimise serious illness, hospitalisations, and fatalities even though omicron can evade immunity than delta, experts noted.
As long as worldwide vaccination rates remain low, experts think the virus will not become endemic like the flu. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated at a recent news conference that addressing global vaccination inequity is essential to safeguarding people from future variants, including those that may be entirely resistant to today’s vaccinations.
This year, Tedros wants to see 70% of the population in every country immunised. According to Johns Hopkins University, there are currently dozens of countries where less than a quarter of the population is fully vaccinated.