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‘Omicron’ triggering new concerns

Published : Saturday, 25 December, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1081
Alaul Alam

Alaul Alam

Alaul Alam

Coronavirus has ravaged the world for almost two years. Life and livelihoods across the world have experienced aheavy burden caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is true that the severity of coronavirus has somehow been checked as long as vaccination campaign is ongoing across the world. But things seem frustrating when we see that the new variants of covid-19 are attacking the humanity with more severity.

People living in the Asian regions had to bear the severity of Delta variant at the middle of this year. It was more fatal than other variants the world experienced over the time. Next to that, the world people have experienced Omicron variant in the most recent time.

The World Health Organization has designated Omicron a variant of concern. This variant was first reported in Southern Africa. Due to its high transmittable nature Omicron varianthas spread amid the world very fast. According to the recent report of the WHO, this variant has been detected in more than eighty nine countries and is spreading so fast across the world.

It is spreading faster than any other variants hit hard the humanity until this. Not only that. Evidences claim that there are many people who are already vaccinated, are being infected again with Omicron variant in the world. Experts' estimate is that Omicron variant has the risk of reinfection 5.4 times greater than that of the delta variant but the morality rate of this variant is not yet known. To combat the Omicron situation, many countries have closed their borders temporarily and announced a ban on travels. Again, some countries suspended inbound and outbound flights to contain the spread of the new variant.

Researchers around the world have revealed their different evidences regarding the severity of the Omicron variant. A school of experts claims that Omicron variant may be milder than Delta and other variants while another school of experts opines that there is little scope to think Omicron milder than other variants. The British researchers claimed that they did not find any evidence that Omicron is milder than Delta.
The Chief of the World Health Organization TedrosAdhanom Ghebreyesus said "Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant. We're concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild", he said. "Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril." He added that vaccination cannot be the only solution unless countries take effective and urgent initiatives to prevent the spread of Omicron.

However, it is evident that vaccination has played a significant role to save lives from Covid-19 related threats. But all the countries in the world have not got the vaccine access adequately and timely. Many rich countries were found hoarding the Covid-19 vaccines and bought up many times more than they needed to vaccinate their populations. The World Health Organization said the approach was "self-defeating" and "immoral."

 Experts claim that vaccine inequity has prolonged the Covid-19 havoc. Many claim that the emergence of Omicron variant is the consequence of vaccine inequity around the world. Different sources say that many African countries still lag behind in case of vaccine accessibility. But it is obvious that the threats due to the emergence of new variants will go unchecked unless all the countries have the equal access to the global vaccine privileges.

On top of that, researchers face many challenges over the emergence of new variants. There arises the question of efficacy of the existing vaccines against the new variants. The most important thing the researchers usually face whether vaccines should be adjusted to the response of the new variants.

To combat the Omicron variant the experts in the world have prioritized booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine. Recently, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for everyone whose age is 18 and above. They opined that people should get boosted six months after their second dose to protect themselves from the Covid threat. Different studies have revealed that booster dose of vaccine is 85% effective against severe Omicron.

Many rich countries have started giving booster shots for their people to ensure better protection against the more contagious Omicron. But the thing which cannot be denied is how to make sole vaccine that can be automatically adaptable to combatany variant of coronavirus.

However, compared with many neighbouring countries Bangladesh has not yet been as vulnerable as other countries are to tackle the Omicron variant.Meanwhile, two patients infected with omicron variant were detected who were players of the Bangladesh women's national cricket team. Certainly, the situation is under control but the question is pertinent to appear, how far we are prepared to tackle any inconvenience over the emergence of Omicron variant?

It is no denial that Bangladesh is observing the situation carefully but it is urgent to take lessons from the havocs caused by the previous waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it is really appreciative that the government of the country is going to administer booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of December 2021 apart from the regular vaccination campaign ongoing. In the first phase the priority will be given to the citizens above 60 and front line fighters. Health minister Zahid Maleque said that necessary steps are being taken to check the spread of Omicron variant.

But the strategies to combat Omicron can hardly work unless the mass people are aware of health guidelines. In this post Covid time, people are hardly found to have any concerns regarding maintaining Covid safety protocol. Parks, restaurants and tourists places are found crowded and evidently, most people hardly have any concerns of the looming Omicron variant.

However, there is no option to ensure strict monitoring in case of screening at the airports and at every location through which people can enter the country. Most importantly, it is urgent to create awareness amid the people about the looming Omicron, the new Covid-19 variant and make them force to maintain Covid safety measures that will not only save lives but also help the country's economy grow successively.
Alaul Alam teaches at Prime University and also a research scholar at the IBS

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