Since the pandemic began, information channels have been flooded with news about the virus. The COVID variant Omicron is the newest addition to this list, and with scientists working round the clock, there’s new data out daily.

If you’ve been keeping track of COVID updates all this while, there’s a good chance you’re exhausted with the constant influx of information. Want a round-up of all the important bits about the virus instead? Here’s all you need to know about Omicron variant, and more importantly, how it stacks up against the other variants. Let’s get right into it.

What you should know about Omicron variant

Given it was discovered only in November 2021, a lot is yet to be uncoveredabout Omicron variant. Here’s what we know currently.

This variant carries over 50 mutations in combinations that were never seen together before. So, how these mutations might work together is still unknown. That said, through genetic sequencing and modelling studies, 30 of the 50 mutations are found to be in the spike protein-the part of the virus that initiates infection. Hence, Omicron might be able to evade immune responses better, thereby increasing the transmissibility of the virus. This also means that some vaccines that target the spike protein might be ineffective against this variant, and vaccine manufacturers worldwide are still performing studies to confirm these claims.

With this knowledge about Omicron variant, let’s see how it compares to the other variants.

Additional Read – Coronavirus: Facts vs Myths

Comparison table: Omicron vs Delta and other variants

ParameterOmicronDeltaDelta AY. 4.2* (offshoot)Beta or B.1.351Alpha or B.1.1.7
Transmission rateMore transmissible than Delta.2X more transmissible than other AY.4.2*, Alpha and Beta.May be 10-20% more transmissible than Delta.50% more transmissible than Alpha.30-50% more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2 strain.
Detected by RT-PCRYes, 2 out of three genes detected.Yes.Yes.Yes.Yes.
Infection severityNot clear.More severe infections in unvaccinated people.Similar to Delta.More severe than other variants. Causes hospitalizations and death.More severe than the original SARS-COV-2  strain. Causes hospitalizations and death.
Prevention through vaccinationVaccinated people may contract and spread the virus.Effective against severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Vaccinated people may contract and spread the virus, but only for a short time.Vaccinations may be effective.Vaccination does not provide strong protection from mild and moderate disease.Effective against severe disease and hospitalizations.

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Preparing for the next wave

Omicron is quickly replacing the Delta variant as the most prevalent variant worldwide, because of its high transmissibility. While we still don’t know how serious the Omicron wave will be, it’s best to be prepared for the worst. So, take care of your health, mask well, and get vaccinated as soon as possible. Additionally, make sure your finances are in order.

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