Journal of the Scientific Society

REVIEW ARTICLE
Year
: 2022  |  Volume : 49  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 114--116

Omicron: A variant of public health concern


Manish Taywade1, Debkumar Pal1, Ranjana Kalra2, Shampa Maji3,  
1 Department of Community Medicine and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2 Department of Independent Researcher, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
3 Department of Pharmacology, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Correspondence Address:
Debkumar Pal
Department of Community Medicine and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
India

Abstract

With the detection of Omicron, a new variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 in South Africa, a question arises regarding its implication in public health. The infectivity, ability of getting detected by available testing method and effectiveness of existing vaccine against this strain are not known properly. This Omicron variant can impact public health similarly or more than the Delta variant. The research is going on in many countries to get conclusion regarding the impact of the Omicron variant in public health.



How to cite this article:
Taywade M, Pal D, Kalra R, Maji S. Omicron: A variant of public health concern.J Sci Soc 2022;49:114-116


How to cite this URL:
Taywade M, Pal D, Kalra R, Maji S. Omicron: A variant of public health concern. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 6 ];49:114-116
Available from: https://www.jscisociety.com/text.asp?2022/49/2/114/354255


Full Text



 Introduction



Since coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) was first detected in Wuhan Province in China in November 2019, almost all countries worldwide are now affected by COVID-19 socially and financially.[1],[2] Till December 5, 2021, approximately 265 million cases happened worldwide, and more than 5 million people died due to COVID-19.[3] The disease itself and the lockdowns created havoc worldwide, which was relieved by introducing vaccination to some extent.[4] There are three peaks or waves of the disease observed in many countries, with only two waves in many others.[5]

 Waves of Coronavirus Disease-19



Till now, three waves of COVID-19 came; wave described as more number of cases detected over a specific time of period in respect to disease trend. One of the main reasons for waves in any infectious disease pandemics is the change in the genetic structure of the infective agent.[6] This change or mutation leads to a change in immune escape, increased virulence, change of susceptible population, or change in clinical features of the disease. This mutation is not unknown, but some viruses are more prone to this mutation due to their genetic makeup.[7]

 Variants of Coronavirus Disease-19



The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus evolution (TAG-VE) is a group of experts continuously monitoring for different variants of COVID-19. The B.1.1.529 variant was first detected from a sample taken on November 9, 2021, followed by first reporting to the World Health Organization from South Africa on November 26, 2021.[8] The TAG-VE detected many mutations within this variant and called it a variant of concern (VOC). As per the Centers for Disease Control, all the variants of SARS-CoV-2 can be divided into VOC, variant of interest, and variant of monitoring, depending on epidemiology, mutation, and impact in public health. VOCs detected till now are presented in [Table 1].[9]{Table 1}

 Known Facts of Omicron



From preliminary testing, it was found that one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) in reverse transcriptase real-time polymerase chain reaction.[10] This finding can be used to detect this variant before confirmation by genomic sequence. A study published in the preprint found that this variant is more infectious than other previous variants.[11]

 Omicron Can Create Problems



There could be different problems arising from Omicron, as similarly shown by the appearance of the Delta variant. There could be more transmission of the virus, leading to more infections, more fatality due to infection, infection in the vaccinated population, infection among children, or atypical clinical features of COVID-19.[12],[13],[14],[15] In the second wave, there was more infection among children and young adults, and there were more fatalities among these two groups than in the first wave.[16] The Omicron variant could create a similar situation.

 Way Forward



The interaction between receptor binding domain of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 leads to infection in humans.[17] The mutations are not uncommon in the spike protein. These types of mutations are causing the interaction between viruses and the human body, leading to change in transmissibility, infectivity, and virulence of the virus.[18],[19] The Omicron probably will not be an end, more variants are on the way to break in. In many countries already, restrictions are imposed in international travel with testing despite being vaccinated, simultaneously active contact tracing for Omicron variant-infected patients, and genomic sequencing going on many countries to detect the variant.[17],[20] Currently, many research activities are going to understand the epidemiology of the Omicron variant to prevent any significant public health disaster.

 Conclusion



As a new VOC, Omicron was detected from South Africa, followed by its detection in many countries. The question arose whether there is one more wave of COVID-19 is waiting for us or not. This variant is now detected in more than 30 countries worldwide until December 5, 2021. Currently, researchers are trying to find the answer to the question: How will Omicron affect the world?

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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