A new strain of coronavirus, Omicron, is spreading rapidly around the world. He considers it more contagious than Delta, and existing vaccines may not be very effective. In this regard, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to ban the entry of citizens of a number of African countries into Ukraine, as well as to pass self-isolation for Ukrainians who returned from there.
What is the danger of “omicron”, what are the symptoms of infection and whether vaccines will help – said infectious disease doctor Viktor Petrov in the program “5 questions” on UA TV.
Oleh Borisov hosts the program.
– What is known about the strain “Omicron”?
– Today it is known that the mutation that occurs is similar to those mutations that occurred before. Unfortunately, geographical features, as well as population movements, the movement of virus carriers, lead to mixing.
What is most worrying is that our immune system, even in vaccinated people, cannot correctly identify this virus and immediately destroy it in the internal environment of the body. Simply put, vaccinated people have a small advantage over those who are not vaccinated, but, unfortunately, mutations in the virus cause our immune system to remain blind to them.
There are very few data on clinical features so far. From what is known, we see that the virus affects the gastrointestinal tract. That is, these are symptoms that are similar to poisoning. Symptoms of diarrhea. That is, with a violation of intestinal motility.
In children, the virus causes almost asymptomatic fever. That is over 39-40 degrees, which is very resistant to conventional drugs that we use to reduce the temperature. Therefore, parents may suspect something is wrong if the child’s temperature used to go well, and now, for example, it is difficult to bring it back to normal.
There is also a danger for organized groups. Because epidemiologists say that the reproductive number of the “omicron” virus is growing. This means that one patient will be able to infect many more people than previous strains.
– If the current vaccines do not help, will new coronavirus drugs be developed? Is it necessary to wait until everyone gets sick?
– No. In no case do not wait. I urge you to get vaccinated with what is available, because it will give you at least 5 days of odds. You will fight the virus 5 days earlier than a person who has not been vaccinated. This is the first aspect.
The second aspect – there is good news from the developers of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, who say that the vaccine will be multivariate. That is, in the near future, those vaccines that will enter the Ukrainian market, the European market, will have elements of mutations that are already known to epidemiologists at the moment. But the bad news is that no one will stop the mutation. Because the RNA virus is one chain that mutates very easily. Replacing any component of RNA causes the virus to behave differently. And for us it is a headache. Because doctors are losing information about how to treat, and there are difficulties with the use of those drugs that we used before, and were calm for our patients.
I call on the decision-makers in Ukraine to allow booster vaccination as soon as possible. I am particularly concerned about the people who were first vaccinated with AstraZeneca and Covishield, the vector vaccine, because they are at greater risk than those who have recently been vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer. Why do I say that? Because, according to my observations, the patients who apply are vaccinated in the spring, last winter, at the beginning of the year. They have almost no protective antibodies left.
I also remind you that the vector vaccine gives an efficiency of 65-70%. Therefore, for booster vaccination, I strongly require that you be vaccinated exclusively with a vaccine based on mRNA platform. That is, CoronaVac and AstraZeneca are not suitable for booster vaccination. This is the golden rule. We must use a vaccine that effectively and very quickly simulates the immune system so that it can recognize at least some mutations.
– Can we expect that in 2022 Ukrainians will be able to get a booster dose?
– I would like the third dose to be allowed as soon as possible, because it is one of the ways to keep the situation under control.
The epidemic potential of the coronavirus, for example, when compared to the influenza virus, is inexhaustible. If we get vaccinated against the flu and get some kind of flu, it is not dangerous for us in the future. That is, its epidemic potential has been exhausted. The coronavirus has the opposite. The longer we meet with him, the more often we meet with him, the more often we get vaccinated, this does not exhaust his epidemic potential. It remains dangerous for us due to the fact that it changes its structure so skillfully that our immune system does not have time to learn.