5th wave may hit Pakistan in February as Omicron spreads its tentacles

ISLAMABAD: The medical experts have warned that the fifth wave of coronavirus could hit Pakistan in the month of February as 75 new cases of Omicron variant have been reported so far across the country.

The health experts cautioned on Wednesday that the Omicron variant which is spreading across the globe quite rampantly could unleash a fifth wave in Pakistan in February. So far, 75 people have been diagnosed with the Omicron variant in Pakistan of which 13 cases belong to Lahore.

The National Health Institute in its Twitter message had called upon the people to get vaccinated and boosted saying vaccination and SOPs are the best defense against Covid-19.

On the other hand, the World Health Organization has warned that the risk posed by the Omicron variant is still “very high”, after Covid-19 case numbers shot up by 11 percent globally last week.

Omicron is behind rapid virus spikes in several countries, including those where it has already overtaken the previously-dominant Delta variant, the WHO said in its Covid-19 weekly epidemiological update. “The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high,” the UN health agency said.

“Consistent evidence shows that the Omicron variant has a growth advantage over the Delta variant with a doubling time of two to three days and rapid increases in the incidence of cases is seen in a number of countries,” including Britain and the United States, where it has become the dominant variant.

“The rapid growth rate is likely to be a combination of both immune evasion and intrinsic increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant.” However, the WHO highlighted the 29 percent decrease in the incidence of cases observed in South Africa — the country which first reported the variant to the WHO on November 24.

It said early data from Britain, South Africa, and Denmark — which currently has the world’s highest rate of infection per person — suggested there was a reduced risk of hospitalization for Omicron compared to Delta. However, further data was needed to understand Omicron’s severity in terms of clinical markers, including the use of oxygen, mechanical ventilation, and death.

More data was also required on how the severity might be being impacted by previous Covid infection, or vaccination. “It is also expected that corticosteroids and interleukin 6 receptor blockers will remain effective in the management of patients with severe disease,” the WHO said.

“However, preliminary data suggest that monoclonal antibodies may be less able to neutralize the Omicron variant.”  TF REPORT

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