Is COVID-19 Version Omicron More Dangerous Than COVID-19 Variant Delta?
Updated On Apr 11, 2022
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The WHO said it is coordinating with several researchers worldwide to better understand how the new variant will impact the Covid-19 pandemic, with new findings expected within "days and weeks." Scientists are closely monitoring whether cases caused by the Omicron variant reported on public databases start to supplant those caused by Delta.
But how different is the Omicron variant when compared to the Delta variant? Read on, as we compare the two mutations that have emerged as a global cause of concern.
Delta Vs Omicron: Origin Of The Variant
The Omicron variant was first detected in Botswana (on November 11) and three days later in South Africa, which has since then reported an increasing number of cases caused by the new Covid-19 variant. Meanwhile, the Delta variant was first identified in India in December 2020 as it swept rapidly through the country before reaching the United Kingdom and the United States. The Delta variant is currently the predominant SARS CoV-2 variant, accounting for more than 99 percent of Covid-19 cases.
Delta Vs Omicron: Difference In Mutations
Gene sequencing of the Omicron variant showed that it had more mutations than the Delta variant of Covid-19. Researchers found 43 aa mutations in the spike proteins of the Omicron variant as compared to 18 found in Delta. The high number of mutations does not automatically mean that these variations are more dangerous, but simply that the virus has further adapted to the human species by generating another variant.
Delta Vs Omicron: Vaccine Effectiveness
A study released showed that the Bovishield vaccine was effective in fighting the deadly Delta variant during its surge in India and led to the development of antibodies. Globally, vaccines have been able to counter Delta, however the same cannot be said about the Omicron variant yet. Scientists speculate that Omicron could render vaccines less effective as it shares several key mutations with two previous variants, Beta and Gamma, that made them less vulnerable to vaccines. However, this is still being researched.
Omicron Vs Delta: Global Response
So far, there have been no fatalities reported from the Omicron variant even as scientists remain on alert with research picking up pace. The Delta variant led to severe fatalities due to a lack of preparedness in fighting the sudden mutation. While the Delta variant was first detected in India in December 2020, it led to an increasing number of cases by April 2021 reaching a peak in May, with most of the population unvaccinated, the immunity against the variant was low.
However, in terms of Omicron, the global response has been swift with the WHO declaring it a variant of Concern within a couple of days of its detection. Since then, several countries have restricted travel to and from South Africa apart from reintroducing quarantines. With an increasing number of people being vaccinated, the immunity has been up compared to when the Delta outbreak occurred. Meanwhile, people who have tested positive for Delta and recovered have already developed antibodies needed to fight against SARS-CoV-2.
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