Senior virologist Dr Jacob John said Omicron carries every spike protein mutation that was present in Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. “In addition, there are more mutation. Thus, immunity induced by vaccinations can be less effective as against delta. This can lead to a decline in immunity and we have to increase the immunogenicity of the vaccine to increase the level of the response against virus. It is important to give booster doses to increase the antibody level like other countries,” he said. He added that Covaxin has a broader immune response. Covishield is expected to have a better spike protein.
Doctors say that it is important to continue the same diagnostic procedure and preventive measures as more information on the nature of the virus and how it can affect an individual is emerging. “For now, it is significant to intensify the RT-PCR testing and based on information from other countries, it is not very high but it’s highly transmissible,” said Dr Sindhura Koganti, consultant pulmonologist, Fortis Hospital.
Talking about the changes in diagnosis and management protocol for those affected, experts say there might not be a major change in the protocol. “The testing needs to be intensified. However, genomic sequencing is to be done for those testing positive and the management of the Omicron cases is likely to be the same. On the vaccination part, more data is required to test their immunogenicity against the variant,” said public health expert Dr K Kolandaisamy.
Experts say the mortality due to Omicron in other countries is not as high as delta. With Christmas and New year approaching, it’s important to restrict social gatherings to prevent community spread.