With countries all over the world scrambling to keep the Omicron variant out of its borders and the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that the global risk is “very high”, most of us would assume that Omicron’s emergence is a very bad thing.
After all, we’ve already experienced something similar with the Delta strain, right?
Well, one German health expert thinks otherwise, saying that the new variant could be a “Christmas gift” instead.
The expert – clinical epidemiologist Professor Karl Lauterbach – pointed to one key fact when he made this assertion; that medics in South Africa have said the strain is causing mild symptoms.
This includes headaches, fatigue, a dry cough, and a high pulse rate. None of the cases so far has reported breathing difficulties or a loss of taste and smell.
The strain was first discovered in South Africa on 24 Nov, coinciding with a rise in cases there. Those infected with the Omicron variant, however, have recovered within two to three days of seeing a doctor.
So, far, the Omicron strain hasn’t led to a single case of hospitalisation or death.
This is why Mr Lauterbach said it could a Christmas gift, as it could accelerate the end of the pandemic.
Well, as scientists have been saying, it’s unlikely that the coronavirus will be completely eradicated. Instead, they believe it will evolve into a milder flu-like virus.
Mr Lauterbach noted that the Omicron variant has 32 mutations on the spike protein alone, – twice as many as Delta – which could mean that while it’s becoming more infectious, it will also become less lethal.
This is how most respiratory viruses evolve, he said.
If this is indeed the case, why is everyone so concerned?
Well, there are a few reasons.
For one, while no severe cases of the Omicron variant have been detected, it could be because the majority of cases are in South Africa, where most of those infected are younger. And as you know, younger people tend to have less severe symptoms than older individuals.
Another reason is its unusually high number of mutations – around 50.
The main reason countries are taking precautionary measures is likely due to the devastating impact of the Delta variant, and the fact that there’s still so much we don’t know about the Omicron strain.
After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
After nearly two years of heartache, there would be no greater Christmas gift than a swifter end to this living nightmare.
Reader: A PlayStation 5 would also be nice.
Featured Image: Andrii Vodolazhskyi / Shutterstock.com