Omicron 1st Step Towards Pandemic Becoming Endemic? As Variant Causes 'Mild Illness', Experts to 'Wait & Watch'

Omicron 1st Step Towards Pandemic Becoming Endemic? As Variant Causes 'Mild Illness', Experts to 'Wait & Watch'
© Provided by News18 Omicron 1st Step Towards Pandemic Becoming Endemic? As Variant Causes ‘Mild Illness’, Experts to ‘Wait & Watch’

The newly-emerged Omicron variant has been ringing alarm bells in the world. But could it be the first step towards Covid-19 becoming an endemic? And if yes, how would that be good for the world? According to reports, the virus is now spreading ‘faster than ever’ in South Africa, where the variant first emerged, but there are early indications that omicron may cause less severe illness than other forms of the virus.

Researchers at a major hospital complex in Pretoria told the New York Times that their coronavirus patients are much less sick than those they previously treated, and that other hospitals are seeing similar trends. In fact, they claim that the majority of their infected patients were admitted for other reasons and do not exhibit Covid-19 symptoms.

Compared to this, the deadly Delta variant was proved to cause increasing severity of the disease in patients, resulting in more deaths. While early data suggests that the Omicron variant is even more transmissible than Delta, with an increased possibility of breakthrough infections (cases in those vaccinated), a milder illness through the variant may help the raging pandemic become an endemic, some experts opine.

What’s an Endemic Stage?

But first, let’s know what an endemic stage actually signifies. The endemic stage of any disease is reached when a large portion of the population develops immunity to the disease, either through vaccination or antibodies acquired from a previous infection. The disease’s spread begins to slow at this point, according to epidemiologist Dr. Lalit Kant. in a BBC report.

Dr. Shahid Jameel, a prominent virologist, told the BBC that an endemic does not preclude infection. “It simply means that it does not spread disease.”

Endemic diseases include chicken pox and malaria, which have a predictable number of cases each year in certain parts of the world.

According to a 1948 definition cited in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, “an endemic area is one in which there is a practically continuous presence of clinical cholera with annual seasonal exacerbation of incidence,” a report in the Indian Express states.

When Does an Epidemic Become an Endemic?

According to one mathematical model published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, if R0, the rate at which the virus is transmitted, equals 1, the disease is endemic. When R0>1, it indicates that the disease is spreading and will eventually become an epidemic. If R0<1, it means that the number of cases of the disease is decreasing. R0 denotes the number of people infected by a disease-carrying individual. What About Covid?

While the exact timing is difficult to predict, most scientists agree that the Covid-19 pandemic will end and the virus will become endemic, a report in the Guardian States. That means the virus will almost certainly never be completely eradicated, but as more people are immunised and exposed to it, infections will eventually occur at a consistently low rate, and fewer people will become severely ill. A region with high vaccination and booster rates will most likely experience endemicity sooner than a region with lower rates.

Omicron First Step Towards Endemicity?

These are very early days in terms of our understanding the Omicron variant. What is known is that it has a large number of mutations, particularly in the spike protein and it appears to be rapidly spreading in specific parts of the world. Very early indications from Africa suggest it does not cause particularly severe disease (though the World Health Organization has urged caution given the limited data available).

At this point, it isn’t clear whether it has any greater capacity to evade vaccines than other SARS-CoV-2 strains such as Delta. It is very common for viruses to become less virulent (that is, cause less severe disease) once they become established in a population. The classic example is myxomatosis, which killed 99% of rabbits when first introduced into Australia, but which now causes much lower mortality.

Some experts have predicted COVID will also become less severe as it transitions to an endemic level of disease settling into a predictable pattern of infections in a given location. It’s possible the Omicron variant may be the first step in this process. Why some variants become dominant Evolutionary biology suggests variants are more likely to thrive if they increase more rapidly in the human population than current strains. This means two things: strains with a higher R number (the basic reproduction number, or the average number of people an infectious person will likely infect) will replace those with a lower R number.

Additionally, strains that lead to the host being infectious earlier will replace those that take longer to become infectious. So strains with a shorter incubation period replace those with a longer incubation period. This appears to be the case with Delta, which has a shorter incubation period than the strains before it. Viral strain evolution needs to be considered in the particular population in which the variant appears. Disease evolution is expected to work differently in a population with low levels of vaccination compared to one with higher levels of vaccination.

In a largely unvaccinated population, like South Africa where roughly 25% of the population is vaccinated and the Omicron variant was first detected, strains with a high R number will stand a better chance of taking hold. But in a highly vaccinated population, strains that are better able to evade the vaccine will be more likely to dominate, even if they have a lower R number in unvaccinated people. Less severe symptoms may fuel spread So, would you expect a variant with less severe COVID symptoms to thrive? It really depends on the trade-offs between symptoms and transmissibility.

The Game of Viraemia

If symptoms are less severe, people are less likely to come forward to be tested and therefore are less likely to isolate. Some may not realise they have COVID at all. Therefore, a strain with low virulence (meaning it has a lower ability to cause severe symptoms in the body) may be better able to transmit to more people than highly virulent strains. On the other hand, as appeared to be the case for Delta, some variants can cause higher viraemia than others meaning higher levels of the virus within infected people’s bodies. The more virus present, the more likely the person is to be able to successfully transmit the disease. This is because of the dose-response relationship the higher the infective dose, the more likely it is an infection will result.

Again, all things being equal (without yet knowing the details of exactly how specific mutations behave), higher levels of viraemia are likely to lead to more severe symptoms. It is not clearly understood yet why Omicron is apparently highly transmissible at least in the African context, so at this stage we don’t know whether it produces higher levels of viraemia than other strains. Viral transmission is a complex multistage process, so many things may be responsible for Omicron’s high transmission rate.

Vaccination is Most Important

Watch and wait What happens next is yet to be determined. Experts will look for more information on the transmissibility of Omicron, the level of viraemia it generates and the extent to which it is capable of evading either the existing vaccines or immune responses resulting from previous infection. Omicron may well behave quite differently in a highly vaccinated population such as we now have in Australia compared with a population with very low levels of vaccination as is the case in most of sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, the emergence of this new variant emphasises an effective vaccination effort worldwide is necessary to overcome the COVID pandemic.

With inputs from the Conversation, New York Times.

Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Gurugram: Man assaults wife with dumbbell rod on road; arrested

A marital dispute turned ugly when a 31-year-old man allegedly assaulted his estranged wife with a dumbbell rod on an open road in Gurugram on Saturday evening, leaving the victim ... Read more »

Omicron Still Active in Communities, This is Not the Right Time to Reopen Schools

© Provided by News18 Omicron Still Active in Communities, This is Not the Right Time to Reopen Schools Is this the right time to reopen schools? Given the current circumstances, ... Read more »

Adani Wilmar IPO Opens This Week: Price, Strength, GMP, 10 Key Things You Should Know

© Provided by News18 Adani Wilmar IPO Opens This Week: Price, Strength, GMP, 10 Key Things You Should Know Adani Wilmar IPO: The Adani Wilmar IPO is set to hit ... Read more »

Rennen manipuliert?: Österreich tobt wegen Olympia-Exoten

© Bereitgestellt von Blick Österreich tobt wegen Olympia-Exoten Mit 32 Jahren stand Benjamin Alexander erstmals auf Ski. Davor war er Model und DJ. Und heute? Genau: Da packt der Jamaikaner ... Read more »

Stricker bezwingt die Nummer 94 der Welt

© KEYSTONE/PETER KLAUNZER Achtungserfolg für Dominic Stricker am ATP-Challenger in Columbus: Der 19-jährige Berner (ATP 241) bezwingt in der 1. Runde Tennys Sandgren, die Nummer 94 der Welt, 6:4, 6:7 ... Read more »

Richest Learning Comes From a Diversity of Experiences: Roshni Nadar Malhotra

© Provided by Business Today Richest Learning Comes From a Diversity of Experiences: Roshni Nadar Malhotra On a good day for technology stocks, Roshni Nadar Malhotra is India’s wealthiest woman. ... Read more »

Seven MBBS students, including BJP MLA's son, killed in car mishap in Maharashtra's Wardha; PM Modi condoles loss of lives

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Seven MBBS students, including the son of a BJP MLA, were killed in Maharashtra’s Wardha district in the wee hours of Tuesday (January ... Read more »

Promise of freebies in polls a 'serious issue' says SC, issues notice to Centre, EC

Promise of freebies in polls a ‘serious issue’ says SC, issues notice to Centre, EC The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Election Commission of India (ECI) and ... Read more »

Budget 2022 wish list: What salaried class, taxpayers want from FM Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman From uncertainty in job markets to inflation, the Covid-19 pandemic has hurt the salaried class and taxpayers in the country in more ways than one. The ... Read more »

UP assembly election: What connects Yogi Adityanath and Akhilesh Yadav

© Provided by The Times of India NEW DELHI: After a long spell of uncertainty, Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav’s candidature was announced on Monday by the party for ... Read more »

Paytm shares hit new low, discount to issue price at 59%

© Provided by CNBCTV18 Paytm shares hit a new low on Tuesday, before making it to positive territory, as investors continued to dump new age company stocks. The stock of ... Read more »

Milind Soman on exercising for just 15-20 minutes daily: ‘Being fit is easy if you know your goal'

© Provided by The Indian Express Fitness is not only about exercising for hours, it is also about being regular and consistent with one’s workout routine. In fact, experts say ... Read more »

After Life: Netflix responds as viewers hit service with same demand after ‘hilarious' scene

Netflix has been forced to step in following an After Life scene that has led to one particular demand from subscribers. The demand concerns a scene that was featured in ... Read more »

North Korea appears to have fired two cruise missiles: Report

© Provided by Al Jazeera Cruise missile launches by the North are not banned under United Nations sanctions imposed on Pyongyang [File: KCNA via Reuters] North Korea has fired what ... Read more »

Man Utd must go all-out to solve 'biggest problem' in January transfer window

It’s been a tough season for Manchester United fans… and there are still four months to go. The Red Devils are currently fourth in the Premier League but face a ... Read more »

Sputnik V remains effective against Covid variants – experts

TWO members of the country’s Vaccine Experts Panel said that the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccines remain effective against the highly-infectious variants of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) virus despite decreased ... Read more »

Hearts v Celtic: Team news on Taylor Moore, John Souttar, Ben Woodburn and Beni Baningime

© Hearts midfielders Beni Baningime and Ben Woodburn. John Souttar, Ben Woodburn and Beni Baningime are all available for Wednesday night’s Premiership fixture, although Taylor Moore is again expected to ... Read more »

Two pioneering overdose prevention centers in New York are saving lives

Until recently, Ron M would take illicit drugs in what space he could find: public restrooms, subway alleyways or just in the street. He often used alone; the possibility of ... Read more »

Healy: Larkham has helped teach me 'to break the rules'

FOR MUCH OF the opening 40 minutes at Thomond Park on Sunday, it was the Ben Healy show as the young out-half delivered a classy display which helped Munster effectively ... Read more »

Apple AirPods Pro review: Silence is golden

(Pocket-lint) – Whether you agree with the polarising design or not, Apple’s AirPods became an overnight phenomenon back in 2017. Since then those in-ear wireless buds have gone on to ... Read more »

Bolton Wanderers send transfer warning

© Provided by Football League World Kyle Dempsey Bolton Wanderers are said to have warned Gillingham that there is a time limit on their offer for Kyle Dempsey, as per ... Read more »

Rock with it

© Provided by Mid-Day There is something about straight-up rock music that grabs you by the guts like no other form of music can. It has this visceral quality that ... Read more »

Portugal's flourishing far right target Roma ahead of vote

© PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA An estimated 30,000 Roma live in Portugal, a nation of around 10 million people Portugal’s far-right Chega party has adopted a harsh line against the ... Read more »

Australian Open 2022, Day 9, Tennis Live Score and Updates: Barbora Krejcikova, Sania Mirza Knocked Out; Nadal Stretched by Shapovalov

© Provided by News18 Australian Open 2022, Day 9, Tennis Live Score and Updates: A resurgent Madison Keys reached her first Australian Open semi-final since 2015 with another big upset ... Read more »

What harm will learning Hindi do? Madras high court asks Tamil Nadu govt

© Provided by The Times of India CHENNAI: “What harm will learning Hindi do? Many have lost the opportunity of getting central government jobs without knowing Hindi,” the first bench ... Read more »

Punjab Election 2022: Congress Tweets Video Showing CM Channi As 'Thor'. WATCH

© Analiza Pathak | India.com News Desk Punjab Election 2022: Congress Tweets Video Showing CM Channi As ‘Thor’. WATCH New Delhi: Punjab Congress has put out a new video on ... Read more »

The best Genshin Impact healer tier list for version 2.4

The best Genshin Impact healers can keep your adventure team alive in any situation, and this tier list will cover the best options in version 2.4. Healing is an overlooked, ... Read more »

Man beaten for travelling with Hindu woman booked under anti-conversion law

© Provided by Hindustan Times The woman claimed she was under pressure and was following what the man instructed her to do. (HT Photo/Representative Image) BHOPAL: A 26-year-old Muslim man ... Read more »

Back in business: World's most remote museum reopens to visitors

– Every weekday morning, UK correspondent Adam Gilchrist joins Refilwe Moloto on Breakfast with Refilwe to unpack the stories making headline around the globe © Provided by CapeTalk Tourism is ... Read more »

Naga Chaitanya says he shares the best on-screen chemistry with ex-wife Samantha Ruth Prabhu

© Provided by Pinkvilla After months of separation from Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Naga Chaitanya in an interview admitted that he has the best chemistry with his ex-wife. The duo have ... Read more »

Konstancja Duff: Met apologises to woman strip-searched in ‘utterly disgraceful' incident

© PA Archive Konstancja Duff The Met Police has apologised to a philosophy lecturer for language used by officers about her when she was strip-searched in an incident branded “appalling” ... Read more »

Assembly elections 2022: SC seeks responses of Centre and EC on freebies

© Provided by The Times of India NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Centre and the Election Commission of India on a PIL seeking curb ... Read more »

'Now it belongs to everyone': Australia buys copyright to Aboriginal flag, making it free to fly

© Mark Baker, AP Photo The Australian government said on Tuesday it had acquired copyright to the Aboriginal flag so it can be freely used, resolving a commercial dispute that ... Read more »

Allu Arjun's iconic Pushpa dialogue recreated by Sapna Choudhary in viral video. Yes, she nailed it

Allu Arjun’s iconic Pushpa dialogue recreated by Sapna Choudhary in viral video. (Image courtesy: Instagram) Allu Arjun’s Pushpa released in the theatres last month and it has been creating quite ... Read more »

Maharashtra road accident: BLP MLA's son among seven MBBS students killed as car falls off bridge

© Provided by The Financial Express One of the seven students, Avishkar Rahangdale, was the son of Tirora BJP MLA Vijay Rahangdale – a first-year MBBS student. Seven MBBS students, ... Read more »

Rubina Dilaik glows in purple lehenga

© Glamsham/Instagram/Twitter Rubina Dilaik glows in purple lehenga Rubina Dilaik posted pictures from the latest music video Ishq on Instagram. In these pictures, she looks so beautiful. Rubina Dilaik picked a ... Read more »

'Cold day' predicted for Delhi today and tomorrow; IMD issues yellow alert

© Provided by Firstpost ‘Cold day’ predicted for Delhi today and tomorrow; IMD issues yellow alert The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted a ‘cold day’ for New Delhi today, 25 ... Read more »

Two women hospitalised after being injured in Ferndale hit-and-run

© @ER24EMS/Twitter A woman was airlifted to hospital after she was injured in a hit-and-run incident in Ferndale, Johannesburg on 24 January 2022. JOHANNESBURG – Two women are being treated ... Read more »

Inside Mira Rajput's camera roll: 1st selfie with Shahid Kapoor at new home, Maldives trip, Zain-Misha's pics

Tuesday came with a throwback bonanza for Shahid Kapoor and Mira Rajput fans as the star wife went down memory lane and dropped unseen photos from her life. Not just ... Read more »

Covid-19 positivity rate at 10 per cent in Delhi; will remove curbs soon: Arvind Kejriwal

© Provided by Zee News NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said that the COVID-19 positivity rate in the national capital has reduced by 20 per cent ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic