The emergence of the new Covid-19 variant, 'Omicron', is a wake-up call for Covid appropriate behaviour for India, Chief scientist of World Health Organisation Dr Soumya Swaminathan told NDTV. Stressing the need to be cautious and wear masks, she said that "masks are vaccines in one's pocket" as it was found especially effective when used indoors, NDTV reported.
She duggested fully vaccinating all adults, avoiding mass gatherings, wider genome sequencing, and closely monitoring any unusual uptick in cases to fight Omicron and added that we need a science-based strategy against it. The variant is believed to be more contagious than Delta. More details of the strain will be gathered in a few days, she said. Omicron is now classified as the 'variant of concern' by WHO and is potentially contagious than all the past variants. But scientists are not sure whether the strain could cause more or less severe Covid-19 than other strains. Swaminathan said that more studies are required to determine the variant's characteristics.
She reiterated that vaccination continues to be a priority, and public health measures must remain in place. While Omicron has a large number of mutations, vaccine equity has not yet been achieved, she added. Genome sequencing would remain important in the fight against Covid-19. It is the process of finding out the genetic makeup of an organism. When asked about travel bans, she said that they should be temporary and reviewed often. Since it had not stopped Covid-19 spread in the past, a risk-based approach is needed on travel bans, she said.
The emergence of Omicron has caused global concerns with a fresh imposing of travel restrictions and sell-off in financial markets.