Keeping an Eye on Omicron – Where it May Lead in 2022

When the Omicron variant recently became known, there were fears that it may be as troublesome as the Delta variant – now we know that it has the potential to be even worse; what does it mean for us? Let’s review the effect this new variant may have as it develops over the coming weeks.

What Omicron Means for Life Sciences

One of the biggest pressures that Omicron brings is the need for further vaccine and medication research by Life Science teams across the globe. There is no denying that the world joined arms in developing the vaccines that many of us have now had. Still, there is a renewed expectation that the answer to Omicron and other potential variants is based on the Life Science community cracking the code.

Sadly, instant solutions are virtually impossible, and teams are already hard at work trying to find out what makes this variant tick along with potential solutions for it. The good news is that we now have a baseline with the current vaccines, meaning that we do not have to start from scratch. What’s most important to remember is that people who have had three vaccinations have 25 times more of the antibodies needed to be protected from it than those who have had two doses. However, those who have had two doses are more likely to be protected from getting a serious case of the disease.

The Pressure of Re-infection Risks

The one area that seems to be causing concern is that the number of re-infection rates is surging and whether this could be linked to the new variant. Omicron is a heavily mutated version of the original infection and this has us wondering how effective the vaccines will continue to be as new variants appear and spread.

Scientists have shared that even with re-infection rates rising, the best course of action for countries is to promote getting as much of the population vaccinated as possible. The vaccines cannot stop individuals from catching COVID, but they do mitigate the effects and slow down the spread.

How Bad Will Omicron Get?

Knowing how Omicron will impact us in real world conditions may be impossible so soon into its discovery, especially as it comes with thirty-five mutations on the spike protein and over twenty other mutations. It will take months to understand the impact of the strain and comprehend whether it will change the path of the pandemic. However, when you consider that only 24% of people in South Africa are fully vaccinated compared to just over 60% of the United States, it is challenging to contemplate what impact Omicron may have just yet.

We know that scientists are vital to this discovery and will be taking what we currently know and using it to model many different outcomes in the hope that this information can support governments and health care systems to respond to the risk proportionately.