World markets have been rattled by the emergence of the latest variant of SARS-CoV-2 – and with good reason.
It has so many more mutations than previous variants that current vaccines and prior infections will likely provide little protection. Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, recently stated "There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level . . . we had with Delta".
From admittedly limited data, the propensity with which infection can be passed from one person to another seems to be much higher with Omicron, than with Delta. It has quickly displaced Delta to be responsible for the majority of new infections in a number of places in Africa – and is now present in a growing number of countries around the world.
The likelihood that Omicron will become the dominant global variant seems very high at this stage.
The severity of infections caused by Omicron seem relatively mild at this stage, with a somewhat different palette of symptoms to prior variants. There appears to be no loss of taste, or smell. Instead, extreme fatigue, headaches and a dry cough seem to be the defining characteristics. According to Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of the South African Medical Association, the symptoms associated with Omicron are “extremely mild” so far (watch the video here).
Make no mistake, if this holds true as larger numbers of people are infected around the world, this is very good news indeed.
It would mean that we have a variant which outcompetes all the deadlier variants of the virus – and causes only mild symptoms.
One way or another, we’ll find out very quickly which way this will go. Omicron is spreading around the world like wildfire and case numbers will quickly grow. We'll start getting much more substantial data within a couple of weeks.
The nightmare option is still a possibility (if Omicron turns out to be very dangerous indeed), but at this stage, there remains some cause for hope...
Customer Relationship Summary
(c) Copyright Afinitiv LLC 2023