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Omicron and unvaccinated people: What are the risks

by Julio Santos January 10, 2022

The damaging effects of COVID-19 have transcended various domains of our day-to-day lives. It has produced long-lasting physical, mental, and health impacts, as well as implications for the economy, education, and technology, among other important societal domains. Just when the world seemed to be recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, a mutated strain from the virus was identified by scientists in South Africa, and again, the world seems to be back at playing catch-up.

Vaccines and rapid tests have been the most promising long-term solution without any significant foreseeable downsides. However, there have been many concerns about the vaccine's effectiveness, among other controversial takes, which has led to a considerable amount of the population refusing to get vaccinated. 

The Omicron variant

Omicron vector

Health authorities have declared Omicron as a variant of concern. This action is based on empirical data that suggests that the variant has many mutations that seem to have altered how the virus behaves based on earlier discoveries. Many scientists are still trying to figure out how and why it is spreading so fast, the severity of its infection, its re-infection risk, and its treatment.

The Omicron variant is scientifically known as the B.1.1.529 variant. With over 50 mutations, it shows drastic and extensive changes in structure and behaviour from the original version of the virus. This variant wakes our consciousness to realize that the pandemic is far from being over.

What makes the Omicron variant different?

woman getting vaccine

The Omicron variant has been found to spread much faster, which is why most countries are experiencing another wave and taking measures to reduce the count.

Projections show that the Omicron variant is transmitting so fast that it would soon be the predominant COVID stain across the world in a few months. It is also known to affect a surprising amount of fully vaccinated individuals. This has pushed many governments to re-introduce strict regulations on travel and gathering and lockdowns.

One of the best news about the variant is that it is usually less likely to necessitate hospitalization than the older variant. Although it is already straining the health sector in many countries.

The Omicron strain still presents similar symptoms as the older strains – fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, diarrhea, etc. Hence, it is difficult to tell the strain merely from clinical details. Other long-term consequences are yet to be established.

Does the vaccine help with the Omicron variant?

set of vaccines

Researchers are investigating if the Omicron variation influences the efficiency of COVID-19 vaccines. Breakthrough Omicron variant infections are also more likely to arise in patients who have been completely immunized. However, vaccines against other variants, such as Delta, have proven to help reduce severe disease, hospitalizations, and death. The new appearance of Omicron highlights the significance of immunization and boosters even more.

Although data is currently scarce, there may be a minor decrease in the efficiency of vaccinations in avoiding serious sickness and death, as well as a loss in preventing mild disease and infection. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the currently available vaccinations appear to provide considerable protection against the most severe consequences. On the other hand, unvaccinated people are more prone to severe infection, hospitalization, complications, and death.

Preliminary data from various studies reveal that a third dose of the vaccine effectively increases the protection against the Omicron variant. For instance, a research made by Public Health Ontario revealed that a third jab showed as much as 37 % increase in effectiveness against Omicron after seven days.

Studies like this have informed various governments' decisions as they roll out booster shots. Though the Canadian government has also followed suit, the overall rollout of the third dose has been slow, so much so that less than 10 % of the Canadian population has received it.

How to reduce the spread of Omicron in Canada

woman holding rapid covid test

As the world continues the fight against this deadly pandemic, everyone has their role to play in slowing down the spread of the infection and eventually taming the virus. It is essential to follow COVID-19 guidelines to stay safe.

Get a rapid diagnostic test kit when you suspect you have been exposed to the disease or appear to be showing symptoms. Early detection through prompt screening helps to reduce the spread, and the person can immediately commence isolation. The rapid test kit is also used for the fully vaccinated as they could still come down with the infection. 

MyZone Test Kits are Health Canada-approved tests that have proven to be a reliable rapid testing option. It is a straightforward method and can be completed in as short as 30 minutes. Boson Biotech guarantees that the test kit is also sensitive to the Omicron variant. Order the test kit and have it delivered to your home.

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