After the  Alpha(B.1.1.7),Beta(B.1.351),Delta(B1.617.2) and Gamma(P.1) variants of covid,there is a new variant in the market,the Omicron variant.We know that viruses have the very common habit of mutation.So,why are the people so worried about this?Why everyone has gone panic,with the entry of this variant.Let us understand this in detail.

The new variant has been named as Omicron variant(B.1.1.529).It was first discovered in the country Botswana,in Africa.But scientists from South Africa had reported this virus to the WHO first on 24th November.Since then,this variant has been identified in many major countries including Australia,Italy,Netherlands,Germany,Czech Republic and Hong Kong.And also,these are only the known cases.In reality,this variant is spreading with a very fact pace.


26th November was the date when WHO announced this variant as a Variant Of Concern.The WHO differentiates covid-19 variants into 2 major categories-

1)Variant of interest

2)Variant of concern

Variant of interest variants are the ones due to which a significant community transmission of covid-19 can be seen.Or it may affect the transmissibility or the severity of the virus.Basically these variants may be potentially problematic.At present,according to WHO,2  variants come under variants of interest.

1)Lambda variant,found in Peru in December 2020.

2)Mu variant,found in Columbia in January 2021.

But the real problematic variants come under the variant of concern category.These are those variants of covid-19,that are responsible for increase in transmissibility and spread in an easy way.The symptoms of these variants are stronger and all the public health awareness and effectiveness of vaccines get reduced.Till now,there were only four variant of concern,as indicated by WHO.

1)Alpha,found in UK in September 2020

2)Beta,found in South Africa in May 2020

3)Gamma,found in Brazil in November 2020

4)Delta,found in India in October 2020

Delta was considered the most dangerous variant among these and was responsible for second wave in India.Delta variant has been the dominant one among the other variants till now,as 80%-90% cases are of delta variant only.


The latest Omicron variant has also been included as the 5Th variant of concern list,due to which new wave of covid-19 could be seen globally.

A Disease which is very much similar to covid-19 is seasonal flu.They both share the same symptoms like fever,tiredness,body pain,loss of appetite.Although,covid-19 symptoms are more severe.Just like covid-19,virus attacks the person with weak immunity or person above 60 years of age and is more dangerous for them.According to a 2017 article of WHO,upto 650000 people die due to flu every year and just like covid-19,there are vaccines for seasonal flu too and these vaccines also need to be updated every year.This is because the virus responsible for seasonal flu i.e.Influenza A virus,keeps on mutating and changes so much that the vaccine needs to be updated every year.So,the process of virus mutation of seasonal flu occurs every year but does not gets the lime light.


Talking about the Omicron variant,more than 50 mutations have been in the variant of the virus.The spike protein,the spikes that you see on the surface of virus,enables the virus to enter the body,and has its own importance to be observed closely as the virus spreads with the help of this.Just in this virus protein,32 mutations have been observed.

If we compare it with delta variant,there were 9 variants seen in delta variant’s spike protein and in Omicron,the number was 32.This is the reason,it has become the variant of concern and is claimed to be a huge jump in the evolution of the virus.

The main question which arises here is how transmissible it is? Regarding this,WHO said that they do not have sufficient data for this,as it is discovered recently.But according to the case study conducted in a region of South Africa,there the test positivity saw a significant increase with in a week from 1% to 30%.So WHO claims that there are chances that this is much more transmissible.A disease modeling scientist has estimated that this variant is 500% more transmissible as compared with the Wuhan variant.

To be more clear,Delta variant was 60% more transmissible than Alpha strain.And Alpha strain was 50% more transmissible than the original Wuhan strain.So,in comparision with Delta,it seems to be much more transmissible.

But,this transmissibility level of this strain can be good a virus that are more transmissible are less deadly and less transmissible viruses are more deadly.This is just a general trend ad obviously exceptions can also be there.

But in South Africa,Omicron has become a dominant variant which again proves its high level of transmissibility


There is no clear answer for this question.Scientists say that it would take a few weeks to determine this.But the situational data from South Africa shows that hospitalization has increased.But the real reason for this hospitalization cannot be concluded as the hospitalization may increase due to high transmission of variant at the same time.Or on the other hand,if it is more deadly,then this could be the reason for increased hospitalization.That’s why to conclude anything about its death rate,would not be right.In fact,we exactly don’t know about the level of effectiveness of vaccines on the Omicron variant.In any case ,the vaccine would be effective but less effective.So,if you are fully vaccinated and take proper precautions ,you need not to worry about.

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