Corona’s new variant ‘Omicron’ is matter of concern, experts explain weapons to fight it


New Delhi: Experts said on Monday that the novel form of coronavirus is a matter of concern, but vaccines are still the most important weapon as they can be effective against ‘Omicron’ as well. Last week, B.1.1.529 (Omicron), first reported in South Africa, has been classified by the World Health Organization as a form of concern.

Public policy expert Chandrakant Laharia said there are about 50 mutations in ‘Omicron’ and 32 of these mutations are in the spike protein, which the virus uses to enter human cells. He said 10 mutations are quite the attention-getter. Epidemiologist and physician Laharia told PTI, “The H655Y, N679K and P681H mutations in these potentially increase the spread. The mutations R203K and G204R are known to be associated with high infectivity. Similarly, nsp6 has the deleterious ability, as a result of which it can evade immunity.”

Immunologist Satyajit Rath said the emergence of the new variant suggests that “we should not treat the COVID pandemic as a short-term crisis that requires short-term measures.”


“We need to be sustained, long-term policies and investments in public health at all levels,” he said. Rath told PTI that even though there may be a slight reduction in the effectiveness of current vaccines in this form, they will not be ineffective at all. He said that existing drugs can also work well against the new form.

Upasana R, Senior Scientist at CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata also agreed. He told, “The most important against this form of Covid is to follow the appropriate health guidelines and get vaccinated. Vaccines can provide at least partial protection against infection and prevent the condition from getting worse.”