Omicron Facts and Myths
Since version b.220.127.116.119 was declared a variant of the concern and named Omicron on 26 November 2021, our understanding of this type has increased significantly; thanks to collaborative global research and the passage of time, we have learned about its behavior and allowed to inspect. And how it affects individuals and communities over several weeks.
Unfortunately, as there are knowledge gaps around Omicron, we have seen a lot of speculation, assumptions, and misinformation circulating about the variant, making it difficult for individuals and authorities to make informed decisions about health safety.
The latest epidemiological data suggests that we are now seeing a rapid increase in the rate of infection of COVID-19 in the WHO European region, mainly due to the spread of the new Omicron variant. To put it broadly, in September 2021, we were experiencing over 1 million new COVID-19 cases in a week. Still, by the first week of January 2022, it was around 7 million reported in a single week. Cases had increased.
By monitoring media, social media, and general search engine search terms and working with fact-checkers, we have dispelled some of Omicron's myths and provided more explanations for the facts.
Fact: Omicron appears to be less severe than the Delta version, but Omicron should not be considered mild.
Myth: Omicron causes only mild disease.
We mustn't get ahead of ourselves in judging the severity and potential impact of Omicron.
Several countries have shown that infection-severity from omicrons in their populations is lower than in Delta. However, these omicron effects have mainly been observed in countries with high vaccination rates in the region: for the comparatively low rates of hospitalizations and deaths are especially due to vaccination, thanks in particular to vulnerable groups. Without vaccines, many more people are likely to be in the hospital. It is too early to say Omicron's impact on the least vaccinated countries and the most vulnerable groups.
Fact: Omicron still poses a high risk to our health systems.
Myth: Because Omicron is less severe, we will have fewer hospitalizations, and our health systems will be able to cope with it.
The entire risk associated with Omicron remains high for several reasons. Current data indicates that Omicron's growth advantage is even more significant than Delta's. Even if an Omicron infection were less severe than Delta's, the rapid increase in cases would result in increased hospitalizations, putting pressure on health care systems to treat patients with COVID-19 and other types of illness.
Fact: Vaccines provide the best available protection against omicrons.
Myth: Vaccines do not work against Omicron.
Vaccination is expected to provide significant protection against severe illness and death caused by Omicron, as other types are still in circulation. Up to this point, the relatively low rates of hospitalizations and omicron deaths are thanks to so many people already being vaccinated in our area. Vaccination triggers the body's immune response to the virus, which protects us from variants currently in circulation – including Omicron – and has the potential to protect against severe disease in the future due to mutations in COVID-19. There is also a possibility.
Fact: Unvaccinated people are most in danger from Omicron.
Myth: Unvaccinated people will not be seriously ill from Omicron.
It's not wise to keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best with Omicron, as the version will be found by people who live without vaccinations. The vast amount of new COVID-19 infections lead to more hospitalizations in countries where Omicron has become the dominant variant, most of which require hospital treatment, compared to people without vaccinations. There are. Where measures to interrupt COVID-19 transmission are absent, the Omicron variant will spread with unprecedented speed, and just like the delta wave, the unvaccinated will be hit hardest. Our top recommendation continues: Take the vaccination when it's your turn, including a booster dose if offered.
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Fact: Omicron is much more deadly than the common cold.
Myth: Omicron is like a common cold.
Omicron isn't like a common cold because it's more likely than a cold that will land you in the hospital. We have seen that people infected with Omicron variants are being hospitalized, and some people have already died. It is also expected that people who have been infected with Omicron and have recovered are also at risk of developing the so-called long COVID condition.
Fact: Omicron can re-infect people who have had COVID-19 before.
Myth: The previous infection confers immunity to Omicron.
If you have had COVID-19 before, you should still get vaccinated, as reinfection with Omicron is still possible, with the risk that you could become seriously ill, pass the virus to others, or develop long COVID. Getting fully vaccinated, whether you've had COVID-19 or not, is the best way to protect yourself and others from serious illness, hospitalization, and potentially dying from the virus.
Fact: Booster jabs effectively increase protection against serious illness from Omicron and all other COVID-19 types.
Myth: Boosters from Omicron are ineffective against severe disease.
The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, as with many other vaccines for the flu, diminishes over time, so if you are offered a booster jab, take it. This will boost your protection against serious illness from Omicron and other forms of COVID-19. This advice is crucial for people in at-risk groups, such as people over the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions, at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill from the infection. Health care workers should also get a booster jab because they are at higher risk of being exposed to the virus and spreading it to the vulnerable people they care for.
Fact: Wearing a mask is an effective protective measure to help reduce the infection and spread of omicrons.
Myth: Face masks are useless against omicrons because their gaps are more significant than viruses.
Based on the evidence we have so far, all of the preventive measures that have worked against the Delta variant remain effective against Omicron – and that includes wearing a mask. Omicron is moving so fast that apart from vaccination, all other preventive measures – wearing masks; To take away other's belongings; physical distance; Avoiding closed, confined, or crowded places; coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow or tissue; And ensuring good ventilation – essential to stem the wave of infection and protect healthcare workers and systems.
Fact: The pandemic end is not yet in sight.
Myth: With Omicron becoming less severe, we are nearing the end of the pandemic.
It is essential to recognize that we still have some way to end the pandemic. Although we are currently reporting fewer hospitalizations and deaths across the region, we are dealing with a considerable surge in COVID-19 cases. And even though Omicron is rapidly making its way into the area, most of the current COVID-19 cases are still caused by the delta variant, which is known to cause severe illness and death.
In countries where omicrons are forming or have become dominant, we are also seeing cases of COVID-19 doubling every 1.5 to 3 days – with hospitalizations increasing rapidly as a result.
So we can't afford to let our guard down. Regardless of where you live or your age, you still need to receive vaccination with an entire course and booster dose and continue to take all other preventive measures, both to protect yourself and others.
To end the pandemic, we need to reach higher vaccination levels in key target groups in the region and beyond. It is as much about vaccine equity between countries as within countries and should include immunizing all vulnerable individuals and health care workers as a priority.
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Additionally, misinformation and propaganda fuel mistrust. It endangers health and life; undermines trust in science, institutions, and health systems; and hinders the response to the pandemic. Whenever misinformation and disinformation collide with evidence-based science, the other person is prevented from making the right decisions to protect their health.