According to a series of studies published recently, the Omicron variant is less severe that the other strains of the coronavirus because of the way it attacks the lungs. The New York Times has reported that studies of hamsters and mice have discovered that there is a less damaging infection produced by the Omicron variant where the lungs are concerned. Instead, this strain is largely limited to the throat, nose and windpipe. The previous variants of the coronavirus were more damaging because they led to scarring in the lungs and also resulted in breathing difficulty. A computational biologist, Roland Elis works at the Berlin Institute of Health.
He has studied how COVID-19 affects the airways and said that it is apparent that this disease manifests itself in the upper respiratory system primarily. One of Cambridge University’s leading variant researcher as well as an author of one of its studies, Ravindra Gupta said that the new variant seems to be doing its own thing in different ways. He said that the virus’s biology wasn’t the same as before and it has almost become something new. According to the conclusions of one study, the levels of the Omicron variant in the lungs stood at one-tenth of the levels found in patients of the Delta variant.
As per all the experiments conducted in recent days, the Omicron variant is milder than the Delta variant, or the others that came before it, which has also been confirmed with real-world data.These studies had been published in preprint form online, which means they haven’t as yet been reviewed by other scientists or published in any scientific journals. The Omicron variant had first been identified in late November in South Africa and Botswana and had quickly become the dominant strain in the former region. It resulted in an explosion of infections that reached 26,000 a day by mid-December, as per the official statistics.
The World Health Organization states has said that the variant has reached more than 100 countries and affects those who have had the coronavirus before, along with vaccinated people. It is currently driving the fifth wave of the coronavirus in Israel. Nonetheless, many studies on the variant, which is now the dominant strain in most areas, show that it carries a reduced risk of hospitalization. But, the WHO has still urged people to exercise caution. The United Nations health agency said that the overall risk pertaining to the new variant are still very high.
Meanwhile in Israel news, a number of scenarios have been presented by experts from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Gertner Institute to Nitzan Horowitz, the Health Minister, along with hospital managers and other officials of the Health Ministry. The most extreme of the scenarios that have been presented includes one that has 99% of the Israeli population getting infected from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Even if this scenario was to materialize, the number of serious cases in Israel would not surge at the same rate. However, it would require the ‘R’ number, which measures the number of people infected on average by one patient of the coronavirus, to surge.
Currently, the ‘R’ number stands at 1.84, but it would have to reach 3 for this scenario to materialize. The optimistic prediction is that the number of serious cases in Israel would be about 1,250 to 1,750, which would just be slightly over the existing record. A more pessimistic scenario indicates that serious cases would reach the 2,000 to 2,750 mark, which would put the health system under immense burden. Hospitals in Israel have already sounded the alarm, stating that even though they had dealt with 1,200 cases simultaneously in previous waves, they cannot do the same this time around.
This is because the staff is already strained due to an increasing number of staff members going into quarantine, along with the outbreak of flu in the country because of the cold weather.