Scientists around the world are engaged in research regarding the new variant of Corona, Omicron. A new wave of concern has arisen in the world ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared this new variant of corona capable of spreading rapidly (B.1.1.529) as a variant of concern.
Which corona virus is more dangerous omicron vs delta variant?
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How different and dangerous is Corona’s new variant Omicron from Delta that has troubled the world? Why is this new variant of Corona, Omicron, believed to be more powerful than Delta?
Where were the first cases of both the variants found?
The delta variant first appeared in India in October 2020, but it caused havoc in India a few months later in April 2021, leading to a second wave of corona in the country. Delta has spread not only to India but to 163 countries of the world including America, Britain. According to the Yale Medicine report, the delta variant is currently the most dominant variant of the corona, which is currently responsible for 99 percent of the total corona cases worldwide.
The first case of Omicron was found in South Africa on 24 November 2021. According to WHO, the first known infection sample from Omicron was taken on 9 November 2021. Within a week of getting the first case, Omicron has spread to 19 countries of the world including Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel, Britain, Germany, Netherlands. So far, no case of Omicron has been found in the countries most affected by Corona in the world, India, America and China.
How many mutations in which?
According to initial reports, Omicron is a variant that mutates faster than the delta variant that has wreaked havoc in the world.
A total of 50 mutations have occurred in Omicron, of which 30 have occurred in its spike protein. It is through the spike protein that the corona virus opens the way for entry into the human body. In comparison, there were 18 mutations in the S protein of Delta.
There have also been 10 mutations in the receptor binding domain of Omicron, whereas the delta variant had only 2 mutations. The receptor binding domain is the part of the virus that first comes into contact with a cell in the human body.
How effective is the vaccine on whom?
A recent research by the Lancet has revealed that the Kovidshield vaccine was very effective on the delta variant responsible for the second wave of Kovid in India in April-May 2021. According to this research, the vaccine efficacy on fully vaccinated people was 63 percent, while the vaccine efficiency against moderate to severe disease caused by Delta was 81 percent.
While there is currently no research on the effect of existing vaccines on Omicron, more than 30 mutations in the spike protein of this variant make it less effective than existing vaccines or completely ineffective. Most vaccines produce antibodies against the spike protein itself, but Omicron’s potential for sharp mutations in the spike protein may render existing vaccines ineffective against it.
Who is so dangerous?
One way to find out how dangerous a virus is is by how fast it is spreading. This ability of the virus is called the R value. The initial strain of Corona had an R value of 2-3, while the delta variant had an R value of 6-7. This means that a person infected with the delta variant can spread the virus to 6-7 people.
At the same time, the R value of Omicron is believed to be about six times higher than the delta, which means that a single patient infected with Omicron can spread the virus to 35-45 people. So far, Omicron has spread to 19 countries. It is considered far more dangerous due to its greater infectious capacity than Delta.
Who is at high risk of death?
According to a study from Canada in October 2021, the delta variant increased the risk of hospitalization by 108 percent, the risk of going to the ICU by 235 percent and the risk of death by 133 percent compared to all previous variants.
No deaths have been reported from Omicron so far, but Omicron’s infectious potential exceeds that of Delta, which has caused millions of deaths worldwide. That is why experts are raising concerns that if Omicron spreads, not only could the number of seriously ill but also the death toll be higher than the delta.
What is the difference between the symptoms of both?
Some experts believe that Omicron’s symptoms may be somewhat different from Delta’s – such as Omicron does not have a taste or smell, whereas Delta does. Although it is too early to say with certainty.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that at the moment, there is no evidence that the symptoms of Omicron are different from the earlier variants of the corona. Meaning, except for the loss of taste and smell, the major symptoms of Delta and Omicron: sore throat, fever, fatigue and headache, are the same.