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Blog Post - Omicron, The New Covid Variant: How Worried Should We Be?

Ritz Aguspina | October 12, 2023
Blog Post - Omicron, The New Covid Variant: How Worried Should We Be?

We're back in familiar ground, with rising concerns about a new coronavirus variant. 

Scientists are concerned about a new COVID-19 strain discovered in South Africa with a large number of mutations, which has prompted travel restrictions by a number of nations due to fears of coronavirus transmission.

Following genetic sequencing, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 22 positive instances of the new variation in the country. The announcement was made public on Thursday the 25th of November 

Joe Phaahla, South Africa's health minister, claimed the mutation was responsible for a "exponential" rise in recorded cases, making it "a big threat."

What do we know about the new variant?

WHO (World Health Organisation) identified the new coronavirus strain as a "variant of concern" in a statement released on Friday, dubbing it "omicron" after a letter in the Greek alphabet.

Are COVID-19 vaccines effective against the new variant?

Scientists know that omicron differs genetically from prior variations such as the Beta and Delta variant, but they are yet to discover whether these differences make it more transmissible or harmful. There is currently no evidence that the variation causes more severe illness.

COVID-19 vaccines are based on the original coronavirus spike protein, which raises fears that the new, radically altered spike protein would make vaccines less effective.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, any new variety that is able to resist immunisations or spread faster than the now-dominant Delta strain could constitute a huge threat.

New Variant In Australia 

Two returned travellers tested positive for the novel Omicron COVID-19 variation in Sydney, making them the first known cases of the strain in Australia, according to NSW Health.

In the 24 hours leading up to 8:00 p.m. Saturday night, there were 185 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in NSW, with no deaths.

There are still yet to be updates on the new variant and its treatment from Australian Health ministers. 

If you or anyone you know is experiencing symptoms be sure to get tested.