Srinagar : Kashmir-based medico, educator and columnist Tuesday said that the emerging COVID variants pose a strong propensity to cause infection and hence adoption of preventive measures remain as key for protection.
He said that with the emergence of multiple variants of COVID-19 — including variants of concern like Delta and Omicron — leading to rapid upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, it is important to ensure safety and adequate protection.
He said that the rising surge of infections due to new variant of concern like Omicron is thought to result from a combination of two crucial factors — increased transmissibility and the ability to evade immunity conferred by past infection or vaccination (immune evasion phenomenon), as per research studies. He said that while we are getting conscious about the emergence of such variants of concern, besides augmenting current vaccine coverage — layered prevention strategies, including wearing well-fitting face masks particularly indoors at public places or areas of substantial(high) transmission irrespective of vaccination status; adopting reommended physical distancing measures; opening windows to improve ventilation; avoiding poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; maintaining proper hand hygiene or adopting various sanitizing practices — are crucially needed to reduce the transmission of such emerging variants(including Omicron) and stop the ongoing pandemic.
He further said that unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern always — be it Omicron, Delta or other prior variants of COVID-19 virus and they are at greatest risk of transmission and more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus.
“Fully vaccinated people may get COVID-19 (known as breakthrough infections) less often than unvaccinated people. However, people infected with the Omicron or Delta variant, including the fully vaccinated people with symptomatic breakthrough infections — can transmit the virus to others, though for a shorter time”, he said. He said that as per experts, the approved COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective in limiting spread of the virus and minimizing severe disease — including against the Omicron, Delta or any other variants of COVID-19.
“For all people, the vaccine provides the best protection against serious illness and death and to prevent new variants from emerging. However, vaccines though highly effective, are not perfect and vaccine breakthrough infections may manifest. Overall, vaccination is the best way to protect oneself, one’s family and one’s community.”, he added. He further added that ambulatory care services, supportive and treatment facilities, infection control measures, testing measures, quarantining/isolation facilities for exposed/infected people, genome sequencing techniques to elucidate multiple variants(including Omicron)– need to be fostered to cope up with the evolving scenarios.