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Omicron (B.1.1.529) Virus

 According to WHO Report,the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if specific mutations and combinations of mutations alter the behaviour of the virus. The TAG-VE was convened on 26 November 2021 to assess the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529.

The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.

 Here’s a quote from Dr Rahul Pandit, Director-Critical Care, Fortis Hospitals Mumbai & Member of the honorable Supreme Court-appointed National COVID19 Task Force.

“The new variant is said to be incredibly heavily mutated. As WHO has declared the variant as ‘Variant of Concern’ (VOC), we will need to know what these mutations do to the inherent abilities of the virus. Until today there were 50 mutations overall and more than 30 on the spike protein; having many mutations does not mean that the virus will be deadlier or more dangerous. However, it is important to know what those mutations are doing. Scientists are still studying the variant and its effects further to identify if it causes more severe disease or has higher transmissibility. We need to wait for more data to come out to understand whether this variant could evade vaccine or natural immunity. Although the Indian authorities, as a precaution, have started rigorous screening and testing of all the passengers coming from ‘at-risk’ countries, we need to continue following strict COVID19 appropriate behavior like wearing a mask, social distancing, testing before & after travel more strictly, and need to be more cautious.”

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