It has only been a few days since the year 2022 started and the country is already off a bad start with the Omicron variant. There has been a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases recently. The worst part is that many people are currently suffering from colds and fever today. Because of this situation, there has been a shortage of paracetamol and other over-the-counter medicines these past few days.
With the spike in COVID cases and the new Omicron variant, going out in public seems terrifying these days. These days, it is better if you stay at home and go out only if needed. Yes, you might have been vaccinated but it’s best to take necessary precautions for your own safety. Having a stock of medicine in your home is also a great idea.
You might be bombarded with bad news every day regarding this pandemic and it’s understandable if you are scared. However, there are studies and scientists that the Omicron variant might lead to the end of the pandemic. The reason for this is the herd immunity that people developed because of antibodies and the vaccine.
But before telling why the new variant could be a mark of the pandemic’s end, we should know what Omicron is.
What is the Omicron variant?
Omicron is the latest COVID-19 strain that was first discovered in Botswana, South Africa last November 2021. According to the findings of the World Health Organization, there are 30 mutations present in Omicron’s spike proteins. So far, Omicron has an unusual number of mutations which makes it spread faster.
In the case of severity of the variant, the data is still insufficient to know what the effects of Omicron on the body are. Despite this, preliminary data suggests that shortness of breathing is not one of its symptoms. In the Philippines, there has been a spike in COVID cases and people having influenza. There’s no data that supports the correlation between these two diseases.
What you can do now is follow COVID-19 protocols and get your information regarding the new variant on trusted websites. If you are not vaccinated yet, now is the best time to coordinate with your local government and get your first shot administered.
Super immunity through vaccination
Before the spread of Omicron, a study from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) reveals that once a person gets vaccinated, they will get a better immune response against the Delta variant once exposed to a breakthrough infection. The study also stated that this immune response is likely effective against other COVID-19 mutations.
In the study, fully vaccinated health workers who were diagnosed with COVID-19 prior to vaccination and fully vaccinated individuals who haven’t been infected by the virus were the subjects. Their blood samples were tested and the results concluded that people who got both COVID-19 antibodies and COVID vaccines are less likely to be affected by other variants if ever the virus mutates.
According to Marcel Curlin, M.D., associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases), OHSU School of Medicine, the results tell that this can mark the end of the pandemic. However, he added that “It doesn’t mean we’re at the end of the pandemic, but it points to where we’re likely to land: Once you’re vaccinated and then exposed to the virus, you’re probably going to be reasonably well-protected from future variants.”
The scientists haven’t tested and researched about the Omicron variant but they are confident that the same thing will happen amongst vaccinated people including vaccinated kids.
The Pandemic’s End
Another reason why scientists tell that there could be hope that the pandemic will end is that there are lesser severe cases around the world compared to when the Delta variant was first discovered. Despite this claim, people should remember that things can change as time progresses so it’s better to stay safe while being hopeful.
And yes, the current COVID variant is more viral but does not have the same severity as Delta because, unlike Delta, the Omicron variant is less likely to infect the respiratory system. In studies done by several countries, hamsters exposed to the Omicron variant have less lung damage and were less likely to die.
According to Wendy Burgers, an immunologist at, the University of Cape Town, the change of the virus’s anatomy and spike proteins led to the change of pathways it goes through to enter the cells. This is why the new COVID variant targets the upper respiratory tract rather than the lungs.
Another noteworthy statement regarding the Omicron variant is from Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, priest and molecular biologist. According to Fr. Austriaco, the variant may spread rapidly, but it will act as a natural vaccine. He added that it will try to spread as fast as it can until it runs out of hosts to infect.
And because vaccinated people are more immune to the effects of the variant, there will be no severe symptoms and the virus will add more antibodies to the human body. The priest also stated that Omicron is a blessing in disguise and it might become a difficult January for everyone, but will soon provide population protection.
Suggested Read: The Delta and Lambda Threat: What You Should Know
Why fully vaccinated people got Omicron
Skeptics of the vaccine have been questioning its efficacy since the first day it was made available to the public. Now that the new COVID variant has spread, people are questioning the effectiveness of vaccines because only fully vaccinated people are allowed to travel internationally.
The main purpose of the vaccine is not to spread the virus, but to protect people from the worst effects that the virus has once a person gets the disease. This means that the virus is designed to lessen hospitalizations and death. For extra immunity and protection, one can get a booster shot months after getting their second vaccine dose.
What You Should do Next
The new COVID variant can be a sign of better days ahead, only if you are vaccinated. The best thing to do now is to get fully vaccinated for herd immunity. As of this article’s writing, the Philippines only has 46.6% of the population fully vaccinated which is a long way to go.
As citizens, you should do your part for yourself and other people. And while the tests have positive results, everyone should still wash their hands, wear masks, and maintain proper social distancing.
Things may also change as the virus will just keep on mutating as long as there are people who are unvaccinated. Nobody truly knows when the pandemic will end but it’s good to hear that there is hope for humanity.