By now, you’ve likely heard of the Omicron variant, a new highly-mutated variant of Covid-19. People around the world are on high alert with regards to this new strain of Covid, and anxious to learn more about the impact it could have on the world.
Mutations of Covid such as the Omicron variant can impact the effectiveness of Covid vaccines and the transmissibility of the virus.
If this variant spreads globally and comes with severe symptoms, it could derail our progress. However, if Omicron ends up being highly contagious, yet mild in its symptoms instead of severe, it could be good news. It’s still too early to know for sure, but Omicron is currently exhibiting signs that it’s milder in severity than the Delta variant.
Thanks to early detection, scientists are saying the world has a head start on handling the latest variant of concern. This means that this highly-mutated version of the coronavirus likely won’t bring the world back to square one in this pandemic.
What Exactly is the Omicron Variant?
Mutations of a virus are inevitable. Omicron (B.1.1.529) is a new SARS-CoV-2 variant that was first reported to the World Health Organization on November 24 2021, raising alarms among researchers and the global community.
It was reported that Omicron came from South Africa. Today, the Omicron variant can also be found in Hong Kong, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Czech Republic, the United States and Canada. These are some of the countries that have recently confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
How Dangerous is Omicron?
We are still in the early stages of learning about the Omicron variant and its potential impact on the world. The World Health Organization has classified Omicron as a Variant of Concern (VOC) due to having mutations known to display increased transmissibility, illness severity, or decreased effectiveness in diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics and public health measures such as social distancing.
The number of rising Omicron cases across the globe suggests that it is highly infectious and highly transmissible. It hasn’t spread out of control yet, but we must work together to ensure Omicron doesn’t spread beyond our control.
Omicron is heavily mutated with 43 spike protein mutations compared to Delta’s 18.
Preliminary evidence also suggests that people who have been infected by Covid-19 could become reinfected easily with Omicron compared to other VOCs.
Currently, it is still unclear whether or not Omicron causes more severe symptoms compared to other variants. However, it seems that it may be milder than the Delta variant.
If Omicron continues to show signs that it’s milder in severity than Delta, that’s good news. That’s even better news if it spreads more quickly than the Delta variant. Why? Because when two variants of a virus are circulating, the variant that infects more people more quickly will tend to dominate, and it’s great if the milder one dominates.
Understanding the true level of severity of Omicron will likely take a couple more weeks.
Can the Circle HealthPod Portable Covid Test Detect the Omicron Variant?
The good news is that rapid Covid tests such as the Circle HealthPod portable Covid test can detect variants of Covid, including the Omicron variant.
Clinical studies for HealthPod conducted at the University of Oxford were able to successfully detect > 99.9% of known Covid-19 strains. This includes:
- Alpha (or B.1.1.7) first detected in UK,
- Beta (or B.1.351) first detected in South Africa,
- Delta (or B.1.617.2) first detected in India,
- Gamma (or P.1) first detected in Japan/Brazil.
- Omicron (or B.1.1.529) first detected in South Africa.
How Does The HealthPod Detect Variants Such As Omicron?
Circle HealthPod is like a lab in your pocket. It can detect Covid variants within 20 minutes, from the comfort of your home. The HealthPod is a molecular test that uses a technology called Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification. The molecular tests employ an equivalent alternative amplification method to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests – the reference standard in Covid-19 testing.
The HealthPod is a portable Covid test that is highly reliable for detecting Covid-19 in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Molecular tests are considered more accurate compared to methods such as antigen tests.
Keep Yourself Safe
When news hits of a highly-mutated variant of Covid such as Omicron, it’s a reminder to stay safe and continue to take extra safety precautions.
News of Omicron has people being more cautious and taking extra steps in terms of safety protocols. This includes mask-wearing, hand sanitizing, social distancing and performing regular at-home Covid tests with a device that can detect variants, such as the Circle HealthPod portable Covid test. Safety precautions such as these will help prevent Omicron from spreading out of control.