The Omicron variant arrived at the end of 2021, leaving a Christmas for history in which new daily infections skyrocketed to figures never seen before and sowed fear again in the face of what seemed like an endless pandemic. It was observed that the variant did not produce symptoms as aggressive as the previous ones and, months later, the entire epidemiological situation began to relax.
But perhaps this is not the time to lower our guard either because the Omicron BA2 variant is “much more contagious” and “It will be almost impossible not to get infected,” in the words of Irish expert Luke O’Neill, professor of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin. Specifically, BA2 is “30% more contagious” than Omicronhas a “much shorter” incubation time and develops “faster in the body”.
According to a Qatari study led by epidemiologist Laith Abu-Raddad, from Weill Cornell Medicine, and published in the journal Naturethe complete schedule of vaccines using mRNA technology, such as Pfizer and Moderna, they are effective against BA2, but protection falls off rapidly if a booster dose is not received.
In any case, the expert did not want to set off the alarms because “the wall built by vaccines it is resisting all over the world and it is really protecting us.” In addition to injected vaccines, O’Neill recommends that citizens continue to wear masks indoors.
The second wave of Ómicron begins in Europe
The Irish Government has recognized that Ireland, like Europe, has entered a “second wave of Omicron“, but does not plan to reintroduce the restrictions due to the pandemic. Contagions in the old continent are growing, for the moment, gently. For example, the accumulated incidence in Spain has been growing since March 11, but this Tuesday it has dropped nine points again up to being in 436.54 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days.
Despite the fact that Spain maintains a high level of alert for coronavirus infections, the registered incidence is three times lower than the European average. With data from March 20, Spain registered an AI 14 days after 445 caseswell below the European average and its neighboring countries such as Portugal (1,353), France (1,224), Italy (1,112) and the United Kingdom (1,245) or Germany (3,176).
Faced with this slight rise, the regional director for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO), Hans Kluge, has shown “optimistic but alert”. On a visit to Moldova, Kluge explicitly mentioned countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands, explaining that the rise was caused by the higher transmissibility of the Ómicron BA2 variant and by the “brutal” lifting of restrictions in this countries.
“We will have to live with COVID-19 for a while, but that doesn’t mean we can’t end the pandemic“, Kluge pointed out at a press conference. To end the pandemic it is necessary to protect vulnerable groups, strengthen surveillance systems to detect new variants, have access to antiviral drugs and deal with long-standing COVID casessaid the head of WHO-Europe.
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