Top virologist answers questions about Omicron
Expert virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan on Saturday posted a list of questions and answers related to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
• Is it very transmissible?
Yes. For example, if one person infected by the original Covid-19 virus sits among seven people, one or two will be infected.
If a person infected by the Delta variant sits among 10 people, six or seven will be infected.
If one person infected by the Omicron variant sits among 11 people, 10 will be infected.
• Can Omicron skip the immunity provided by the vaccine?
Two doses of any Covid-19 vaccine provide little or no protection. People should get a third jab to protect themselves. Those who have received a booster a long while ago may be at risk because immunity provided by the vaccine can drop over time and people who have been infected before can be infected again.
Vaccines, however, reduce the severity of symptoms.
• How severe is the Omicron variant?
Studies show that the Omicron variant is far less severe than the Delta variant. The number of hospitalisations from the variant in South Africa, where it was discovered, is 70 per cent fewer than from the Delta variant.
However, hospitalised patients did develop symptoms as severe as with the Delta variant.
Studies in the UK revealed that the number of hospitalisations from Omicron was 15 to 20 per cent less than the Delta variant, while they were two-thirds less in Scotland.
Yong advised people to get their shots to build up their immunity to reduce the severity of the disease. He said people should get a booster three months after their last jab because Omicron will soon replace the Delta variant.