Be extra vigilant against Omicron, says PGIMER

BBMP Marshal creates awareness among people to wear face mask and follow precautions against the recently detected Omicron variant in Bangalore on November 28, 2021.   | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh has called for vigilance against the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, given its immune escape potential and possible transmissibility advantage as compared to the Delta variant.

However, currently there is no evidence of the importation and transmission of the Omicron variant in the Indian subcontinent.

Also Read: Explained | Understanding the Omicron variant of coronavirus

Professor Mini. P. Singh, Professor and Nodal Officer, COVID-19 testing at PGIMER, said on Tuesday that there is still uncertainty on transmissibility, immune escape potential (from infection and vaccine-induced immunity), the severity of disease, and response to available countermeasures (e.g., diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics) of the new variant.

The Omicron variant is believed to have originated in South Africa in an immune-compromised patient. Since then, it has been detected in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Israel and some European countries. It is characterised by multiple mutations in the spike and nucleocapsid proteins which outnumber the mutations seen in the Delta variant. The spike protein is the key protein that binds with human receptors to gain entry into cells.

Prof. Singh asserted that the existing diagnostic tests (including the real time PCR as well as rapid antigen tests) can pick up the new variant.

Dr. P.V.M. Lakshmi, Professor, Community Medicine and School of Public Health at PGI said residents in Chandigarh and neighbouring areas are advised to continue following COVID appropriate behaviour and ensure vaccination of all eligible individuals.

“Mass gatherings and non-essential travel should be strictly avoided. Patients with respiratory symptoms should get themselves tested for COVID-19 and isolate themselves till the reports are available,” Prof Lakshmi said.

“Enhanced surveillance will be important to detect the early warning signs and prompt initiation of public health and social measures. There is no need to panic as, so far, no case of this new variant has been reported in India,” she added.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 6:13:50 AM |

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