In light of the spread of Omicron, when do we bid farewell to the Corona epidemic?

What are the most important data about the Omicron strain of the Corona virus? Is it true that when viruses mutate weakened? Does this apply to Corona? And in light of the Omicron mutant, can it be expected when the Covid-19 pandemic will end in the world? Will we need fourth, fifth and sixth doses of the Corona vaccine?

We directed these questions to Dr. Muhammad Atta Handous Rahal, an assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, a senior consultant physician, and a holder of the American Board, who answered them in statements to Al Jazeera Net.

What are the most important data about the Omicron strain of the Corona virus?

In 2020, the World Health Organization categorized variants of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) into variants of interest and variants of concern, and used the Greek alphabet to name these types of variants in order to simplify matters.

Known variants of concern include Alpha B., Beta B.1.351, Gamma P.1 and Delta P. .1.117.2” (Delta B.1.117.2).

Recently, the 15th letter of the omicron Greek alphabet was assigned to the variant “B.” (B.1.1.529) which is currently found in all regions of the world.

Recent studies have shown that the omicron variant is highly transmissible, but fortunately, so far, symptoms are milder compared to the delta variant.

Furthermore, Omicron does not significantly increase the risk of severe disease in the vaccinated population.

The emergence of a new variant usually raises concerns about the effectiveness of currently used vaccines. These concerns may be valid, and preliminary studies have shown that the omicron variant may have the ability to partially evade the protective features offered by COVID-19 vaccines.

Current studies have shown that those who received two doses of the “Pfizer” vaccine had a 25-fold decrease in the ability to neutralize infection towards the Omicron mutant compared to the original Corona virus. However, a booster dose (the third dose) of the Pfizer vaccine can provide 80-95% protection.

In addition, 80% of epitopes, which are part of an antigen recognized by the virus immune system that are recognized by CD8+ T cells known as memory cells, are unaffected by changes or mutations. in an omicron variable.

Is it true that when viruses mutate, they weaken? Does this apply to Omicron and Corona?

Viruses, especially those that contain ribonucleic acid as genetic material, often mutate, including the novel coronavirus and influenza virus.

When a virus spreads widely and causes disease, the chance of the virus mutating increases. The greater the chances of the virus spreading, the greater the chances of its recurrence, and the greater its chances of succumbing to changes. An error in this transcription process causes a mutation.

Most viral mutations have little or no effect on the virus’s ability to exacerbate disease. However, depending on where the mutations are located in the genetic material of the virus, they may affect characteristics of the virus, such as virulence, immune escape or transmissibility.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is covered with transmembrane lipoproteins (or glycoproteins) that can allow the virus to integrate into the host’s cell membrane. The Corona virus contains the “spike” protein and is located on the envelope of the Corona virus, which is made of a linear chain of about 1,300 amino acids.

Changes, particularly those related to the spinal protein, are the main cause of mutation in the virus that causes COVID-19.

Dr. Mohamed Atta Handous-Rahal, Senior Consultant, Academic General Pediatrics, Assistant Professor, Weill Cornell Medicine.  Sidra Medicine in Qatar Source: Sidra MedicineDr. Mohamed Rahal: It is difficult to predict when the Covid-19 pandemic will end (Sidra Medicine)

With the Omicron mutant, when do you expect the global Covid pandemic to end?

It is difficult to predict or determine when the Covid-19 pandemic will end in the world, as the trajectories and possibilities of the pandemic depend on the way in which societies interact.

However, we have strong evidence that booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine can increase protection against COVID-19 including the omicron variant.

Moreover, there are currently some effective oral treatments that alleviate the severity of the disease.

We have also learned, in the last two years of the epidemic, that following some precautions and sanitary measures can be crucial in reducing the transmission of infection, and thus the epidemic.

What about the “B1.640.2” Corona strain that appeared in France?

French scientists recently reported virus changes in 12 SARS patients living in southeastern France. The first identified or reported case traveled from Cameroon to France. The same researchers found at least 46 mutations in the virus, including several in the spike protein. The variant (B.1.640.2) was named “IHU” because it was discovered at the Institute Mediterranean Infection (IHU) in France.

It may be difficult at this point to consider the variant as a new mutation, especially since the parent lineage B.1.640 (B.1.640) was reported in November 2021 in Ghana.

Does the Corona strain “B1.640.2” threaten a new epidemic and more infections?

It’s too early to expect that the “P1.640.2” variant could be more irritating or travel faster. It should be remembered that most viral mutations have little or no effect on the ability of the virus to exacerbate disease. However, observing this alternative is justified.

What advice do you give to the Arab public?

Stopping the spread at the source and immunization remain critical. Receiving a booster dose will increase immunity to Omicron. The precautions used regularly since the beginning of the epidemic must be strictly followed. These measures include physical distancing, avoiding enclosed spaces or crowds, wearing a face mask or face shield, and cleaning hands frequently. By reducing the amount of virus susceptibility, the odds of a new variant emerging are low.

Do you expect the fourth, fifth and sixth doses of the Corona vaccine?

Protection against COVID-19 diminishes over time, which is why boosters are introduced. Further studies are needed after the booster dose to monitor immunity, and the effect of more doses on the level of this protection will be determined.

Dr. Rahal is a Senior Consultant and Senior Consultant in Academic General Pediatrics at Sidra Medicine in Qatar, and is also the Chair of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Vice Chair of the Institutional Board Review at Sidra Medicine.

He has published many studies in medical journals, and his work has been presented at the most prestigious international pediatric conferences such as the National Conference and Exhibition of the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the Canadian Pediatric Society, trained at the University of Illinois, Chicago Medical College and Mount Sinai Hospital, and received the American Board of Pediatrics The American Board of Medical Specialties.

5 omens about Omicron and Corona

The past days bore promising indicators about the Covid-19 pandemic, including:

1- More evidence that Omicron’s symptoms are milder

A World Health Organization official said, on Tuesday, that more evidence shows that the mutated Omicron strain of the Corona virus infects the upper respiratory tract and causes milder symptoms than previous mutations, according to Reuters.

“We are seeing more and more studies that indicate that Omicron affects the upper body, unlike other mutations that can cause acute pneumonia,” Abdi Mahmoud, director of accident management at WHO, told reporters in Geneva. He added that this may be “good news”.

However, he said, the rapid spread of Omicron means that it will be the dominant mutation in many places within weeks, posing a threat in countries where a large number of the population has not yet been vaccinated.

His comments about the reduced risk are consistent with other data including a study from South Africa, one of the first countries where Omicron was detected.

2- The French Minister of Health is optimistic

“This fifth wave may be the last,” French Health Minister Olivier Veran said, predicting a possible exit from the crisis, according to Agence France-Presse.

The minister repeated his comments to France Inter on Monday with some caution, saying, “Everything revolves around. Maybe.”

3- The beginning of the evolution towards a more common virus

Alain Fischer, in charge of the French vaccination program, told BFMTV on Monday that with a new mutant “more transmissible (than its predecessors but less dangerous) we may see the beginning of the evolution towards a more common virus like other viruses.”

In other words, a virus that is more contagious and less dangerous would allow for natural immunity in addition to the immunity conferred by the vaccine, which would mean entering a less dangerous phase of the epidemic.

B strain infographic 1.640.2, the new corona strain "B 1.640.2" that appeared in France and carries 46 mutations, infographic, corona covid

4- Corona will join the viruses that cause colds

And at the end of the week, French epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet declared, “Finally there is hope… Corona will join other seasonal human coronaviruses that cause colds and tonsillitis every winter.”

“We haven’t reached this stage yet,” he said. “We can expect new mutations to emerge but because our immunity has been strengthened over time either through natural infection or booster doses of the vaccine, their ability to cause serious cases will decline,” he said.

5- Not the last, but what comes after it is weaker

On Sunday, Professor Eric Kom, former head of the infectious diseases department at the Pettier Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, declared: “I am convinced that this wave will not be the last.”

“But it could be the last that’s so powerful,” he added.

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