Influence of the omicron strain on the course of the pandemic – possible scenarios

Soon the next anniversary of the pandemic … During this time, the number of vaccinations in the world has confidently exceeded 8 billion, but, alas, it is still cloudy on the horizon, to say the least.

It seems that we will still live in coexistence with the coronavirus for a long time, although the ups and downs of its aggression sometimes inspire hope, and sometimes despair again. The emergence of a new omicron strain has exacerbated widespread fears. Scientists suggest that he is able to radically change the course of the pandemic.

Without waiting for the results of the study of a new option, countries rushed to close their borders and introduce new restrictions. Tedros Adanom Ghebreyesus, head of WHO, said:

“The emergence of a highly mutable variant of the omicron coronavirus speaks volumes about how dire and challenging we are in.”

A week ago, WHO recommended that all states prepare health services for the surge in omicron infections. Experts say the mutant is already causing “a very large influx of new patients.” The organization called on all countries to regularly share “evidence-based information about the omicron and other circulating variants” of the coronavirus.

In general, the dependence of the course of the pandemic on the appearance of this strain is still unpredictable. It may be more infectious and resistant to vaccines. In this case, the pandemic can actually start over. Stéphane Bansel, CEO of Moderna says:

“I think there will be a significant decline [эффективности]… I don’t know how much, so we need to wait for the data. But all the scientists I’ve talked to point out that this will not be good news. “

The production of new vaccines may take several months, and again, at first, the drugs will be available only in wealthy countries. That is, if the worst fears about the omicron are confirmed, then the whole world will have to start a new vaccine campaign and help, including, poor countries.

However, experts say that the presence of any of the existing vaccines still reduces the risk of infection, including with a new strain. This is what the company thinks too. Phizer, whose specialists hope for “substantial protection against serious diseases caused by the omicron.”

The Gamaleya Institute (Russia) announced the effectiveness of Sputnik V and Sputnik Light against the omicron strain, since they are also effective against other mutations. Although the institute has already started developing a new version, specifically for the omicron version. Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Phizer also adapt their preparations.

As reported to the publication TASS Sergei Netesov, virologist, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, head of the laboratory of bionanotechnology, microbiology and virology of Novosibirsk State University, the resistance of omicrons to the immune response caused by vaccines will become clear in about two weeks. After it becomes known how many vaccinated and unvaccinated have become infected.

In the meantime, due to fears of a new wave of coronavirus associated with the omicron, the markets are shaking. For example, on December 1, after the detection of the first infected with the virus in the United States, the Dow Jones industrial index fell by 1.3%, the index of the 500 largest American companies S&P 500 – by 1.2%, the Nasdaq electronic stock exchange index – by 1.8%. January futures for WTI crude oil fell 1.62% to $ 65.13 a barrel. Shares of the largest American air carriers fell noticeably: American Airlines – by 7.97%, Delta Airlines – by 7.36%, United Airlines – by 7.57%.

The further situation will depend on how dangerous the new strain is. If the risk is high, then countries will continue to be quarantined and massively cut air travel. All this will affect oil prices and, consequently, the value of national currencies. For the third year in a row, the transport, service and tourism markets will remain in suspended animation and significantly slow down economic activity on the planet. Aide to the Russian President Maxim Oreshkin says:

“If the virus spreads faster, if the severity of the disease remains high, and at the same time it can bypass the existing vaccines, this is the most negative scenario. Of course, the whole story of the coronavirus can start in many ways in a new way.”

Are positive forecasts possible? In anticipation of news, there are also promising messages. For example, doctors in South Africa report a flurry of infections, but note a low number of hospitalizations. Most of the patients infected with “omicron” prevail mild symptoms: fever, dry cough, night sweats, body aches. Doctor Angelica Coetzee says:

“What we see in South Africa, and I actually ended up in the epicenter of what is happening, are very easy cases, easy for us [врачей]… We did not hospitalize anyone, I spoke with colleagues, they are of the same opinion. “

Thus, if, against the background of the rapid spread of the omicron, it proceeds in a mild form, then it is able to displace the delta and allow the sick to carry the coronavirus infection much easier. Alexander Gintsburg believes:

“Perhaps he has [омикрона] there will be a long period of transition from the stage of infection to the stage of possible severe complications, that is, the incubation period will be about 12-14 days. If so, then it can supplant the delta strain and immunize the population. If, at the same time, those vaccines that are now widely used will act against this strain, then perhaps this can be equated with salvation. Everything will be aimed at limiting distribution. Nature not only harms us, but also helps us in part. “

The main recommendation of experts remains vaccination and receiving a booster dose. Wearing masks and maintaining health standards continue to play a critical role in countering the spread of coronavirus.





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