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Why Is Omicron Such A High-risk ? So, What Are Your Options

Published On Apr 11, 2022 11:00 AM By InsuranceDekho

Scientists first recognized Omicron thanks to its distinctive combination of more than 50 mutations. Some of them were carried by earlier variants such as Alpha and Beta, and previous experiments had demonstrated that they could enable a coronavirus to spread quickly. Other mutations were known to help coronaviruses evade antibodies produced by vaccines.

Based on those mutations, along with a worrying rise in Omicron cases in South Africa, the World Health Organization designated Omicron a “variant of concern” on Nov. 26, warning that the global risks posed by it were “very high.” Since then, the variant has been identified in at least 175 countries. Omicron quickly surged to dominance in many parts of the world, living up to the potential that scientists recognized when it was first discovered.

At the beginning of December, a California resident who returned home from South Africa was identified as the first American infected with Omicron. By Dec 25, it made up three-quarters of all new infections in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, the variant accounts for essentially all infections.

What is BA.2 And Is It Worrisome?

There are several genetically distinct versions of Omicron. Initially, the subvariant known as BA.1 was the most common. In the United States this winter, BA.1 and the highly similar BA.1.1 drove an enormous surge in new cases, which peaked at an average of more than 800,000 a day in mid-January, more than three times as high as the nation’s previous peak. Since then, cases have steadily declined, as have hospitalizations and deaths.

In the late winter and early spring, a different subvariant, known as BA.2, gained steam, becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide. It became the dominant variant, accounting for more than half of infections in the United States as of March 31, the C.D.C. estimated. BA.2, which is even more transmissible than BA.1, might also have fueled new surges in China, Hong Kong and South Korea, where cases spiked in March.

Does Omicron Spread Faster Than Other Variants?

Yes. It is two to three times as likely to spread as Delta. The earliest evidence for Omicron’s swift spread came from South Africa, where Omicron rapidly grew to dominance in one province after another. In other countries, researchers were able to catch Omicron earlier in its upswing, and the picture was the same: Omicron cases doubled every two to four days — a much faster rate than Delta.


Omicron also appears to have a shorter incubation period than other variants do. People who are infected with Omicron typically develop symptoms just three days after infection, on average, compared with four days for Delta and five days for earlier variants.

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This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.

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