Omicron: Not a threat yet!

Bangalore City Covid-19 Health

Government’s response to Omicron is not at expected level, say officials.

Despite a rise in Omicron cases across the world the Indian government has not issued new guidelines except for international arrivals. 

D. Randeep, state commissioner of health and welfare services said that the department is not planning to introduce any new measure for citizens. “The same precautions which were there for delta variant will be followed.  Few travel restrictions are put only for international travelers. For domestic travelers when they are tested positive we will isolate them. We have not received any order from the central government regarding children’s vaccination,” he added. However later when two omicron cases were found in Karnataka he added, “People need to follow Covid-appropriate behavior and containment measures will be taken for the infected, primary contacts and secondary contacts to keep it under bay”.

“It’s not a concerning variant for me and the people we are getting for treatment are of post covid-19 health problems. The government response on restrictions for international travelers after the rise of omicron is excellent. Moreover, children are the only ones left for vaccination and the government needs to get on with it. People just need to follow social distancing and use masks,” said Dr. Prabhakar Rao, Director, Academic and Research, MNR Medical College. .

Shivandra, an employee in Deloitte said that he is scared of omicron even though he and his family is fully vaccinated as many are still getting infected in Bangalore.

Dr. Madhu Khanna, a professor at Department of Virology, V.P. Chest institute said, “Delta and Omicron variants emerged from mutation in the genome of SARS COV-2 virus. The mutations are basically the variation in genome. Any change in the genome will alter a particular protein, except in some special cases which are referred as “same-sense mutation. “

Since the spike protein is a surface protein, the mutation which helps the virus to evade host immune system will provide an advantage to the virus. Most of the vaccines are designed against the spike protein; therefore any change in the spike protein might affect the efficacy of vaccine. But exact impact has to be evaluated experimentally, she added.

As of December 1, 2021 7, 54, 52,240 people are vaccinated in Karnataka.

Vaccine actually mocks the actual infection and helps the host immune system to prepare against subsequent infection with same pathogen, against which vaccine developed. But, changes in the viral protein arised by mutation may help the virus to evade the existing immunity provided by the vaccine. Therefore, mutation in omicron variant may reduce the protection expected to be provided by vaccine. But vaccinated people have a more chance of protection than unvaccinated. So they should start vaccination of children as well, said Dr. Madhu