No one for sure knows when the COVID-19 pandemic will be declared as an endemic, and even when the COVID-19 becomes endemic, there is no knowing how dangerous or transmissible the new variants will be or how the healthcare systems will be stretched and society impacted by the new variants. So in the face of unpredictable waves, the best we as a society can do is to take precautions and strive for a world of normalcy without complacency.
At present, Omicron has spread rapidly worldwide since it has been named a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization. While the effect of Omicron, which scientists in South Africa first reported, have been deemed to be “mild”, the lack of strong symptoms has led to a sense of complacency and a lot of confusion among people, especially in India, where the onset of the Omicron wave has coincided with the flu season. Data suggests that Omicron seems to impact mainly the upper part of the respiratory tract that in turn causes milder impact, but the judgment is still not out, and we have to wait and watch to know the full impact of the new variant. Meanwhile, with the Omicron Variant third wave underway, we as a society should be geared up so that Omicron may not lead to severe disease or hospitalization.
According to the emerging trends, the best part is that we already have the tools to fight Omicron, some of which we have explored as follows.
Safe and effective vaccines
Whether it be Alpha, beta, gamma, or delta variants, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death, and it would be a fair assumption to say that vaccines still remain the best public health measure to protect people from the latest variant, Omicron. But it’s not vaccines that will stop the pandemic; it’s vaccination, so those who have not yet been vaccinated should make it a priority.
Secondly, breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people may occur in some cases, but that does not mean that vaccines aren’t working. So do not panic; Covid-19 vaccines were never meant to eradicate the virus but to reduce overall COVID-19 severity and mortality. Furthermore, when you and people around you are vaccinated, it will also slow down transmission and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging.
Follow Safety Protocols
Granted; Safe and effective vaccines are a game-changer, but vaccines alone are not a solution. In our fight against Omicron, we should not leave any stone unturned in terms of taking precautions against the spread of the new variant. We must continue wearing masks, sanitizing our hands, ensuring good ventilation indoors, social distancing and avoiding crowded places.
Do not come into close contact with anyone who is experiencing cough and fever, or touch your mouth and nose frequently, or move out of the house unnecessarily. Also, people should avoid traveling unless it is really necessary or an emergency till the wave subsides.
Always remember, Masks and hand hygiene offer protection against all variants.
You should self-isolate and take the RT-PCR test as soon as you experience any symptoms like fever, cough, or bodyache. Self-test kits can be used at home or anywhere. As the name implies, sample for the test can be collected by the person themselves and do not require sample to be collected by a healthcare professional, are easy to use, produce rapid results and will ease pressure on testing labs and reduce delays in testing. These kits contain instructions for use (IFU) leaflet and a biohazard bag to dispose of waste after testing safely.
If you test positive, stay home and immediately isolate for 7 days as per current government guidelines so that you do not infect others. If you test negative but continue to experience COVID-like symptoms, call your healthcare provider.
Building a strong immune system is the need of the hour. What better way to achieve this goal than by making changes in your dietary habits? Eat healthy and nutritional food such as green vegetables, fruits rich in vitamins, nuts and whole grains, and foods from animal sources (eg meat, fish, eggs and milk). Other things that you can do to maintain a strong immunity are – Do not smoke, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, if you drink alcohol- drink only in moderation and do get adequate sleep.
Stay Away From Fake News
Lastly but not least, do not fall prey to misinformation. To protect yourself and not to put other people’s lives in danger, get vaccinated and do not believe everything you read on social media or WhatsApp.
By Dr. Sonal Saxena, Senior VP Lab Operations, Healthians
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person / organization directly or indirectly.)