Is it really omicron supposed the end of the Covid pandemic?

After two years since his appearance, we are in the middle of the sixth wave of Covid-19. The surprising thing is, above all, its ability to acquire and corre

Is it really omicron supposed the end of the Covid pandemic?

After two years since his appearance, we are in the middle of the sixth wave of Covid-19. The surprising thing is, above all, its ability to acquire and correct mutations that end up giving life to increasingly transmissible variants. This was the case of the alpha variant and after the delta, and omicron is even more contagious. In addition, both delta and, to a greater extent, omicron, have proven to be able to evade the immune response and therefore reduce, although partially, the effectiveness of vaccines, so it has been necessary to resort to reinforcement dose administration To increase protection against severe forms of the disease.

The greater capacity of contagion and the short period of time between the appearance of a case and the following confer omicron a selective advantage against other variants of the coronavirus as well as the ability to generate a large number of infections in a few days.

From this it is deduced that, even if the intrinsic omicron virulence is reduced (the risk of hospitalization seems to be approximately one third of the Delta), the risk of hospital congestion as of any problem related to the continuity of some essential services is high .

Omicron, according to the Politologist Yascha Mouck, marks the beginning of the "Social" end of the pandemic. But it is too early to say if it can also be a prelude to the "biological" end of the crisis.

To explain what is happening, reference is usually referred to the "Spanish flu", which, however, was caused by a flu virus, very different from the coronaviruses, and that manifested itself with a succession of epidemic waves each With different characteristics. During the first wave, which began in March 1918, at the time of the "Great War", the classic symptoms of the flu predominated and the clinical impact was not serious.

The second wave, which began at the end of the summer of 1918, was devastating, especially between October and December, due to the high pneumonia rates, which often also affect young people and cause high mortality. The third wave, which began between December and January, lasted until March-April 1919, but it was less virulent. Unfortunately, unlike what happens today, the lack of technology did not allow to follow the evolution of the virus from a molecular point of view and therefore identify mutations that could explain the differences in what was defined, with an imaginative term, as an epidemic "genius".

If the story was repeated again and again in the same way, being aware of the current threat to the public health that omicron has, we would still look towards the future with cautious optimism. The relief of symptoms and the immunity of the population caused by infections and / or vaccines are a good omen, since any new variant will probably be found with a more resistant population.

It is also difficult to think of a new variant that can spread more quickly and efficiently than omicron. However, there is a margin of uncertainty, because it is known that viruses are strange and the opportunities offered by a globalized world largely poor in resources and vaccines are many.

* Giovanni Rezza is Epidemiologist and Director of Sanitary Prevention of the Italian Ministry of Health

Updated Date: 11 January 2022, 10:00

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