Omicron is the first SARS-CoV-2 variant to negatively impact the surge in population immunity levels on account of vaccines or prior infection with other virus forms. Variants, namely, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, were the dominant strains primarily based on how well they infected human cells in high numbers and were efficiently transmitted among people. However, Omicron included the distinct advantage of resisting immune defenses, thereby increasing the number of people who were susceptible to this infection.
Evidence initially suggested that re-infection with a BA.2 strain after BA.1 is contracted occurs, but this is rare. If individuals have been infected with BA.1, they could potentially be well protected from BA.2. Scientists anticipate that areas, where BA.1 infection rates have peaked, may avoid subsequent surges in BA.2 strain infections. For example, in South Africa last December, the number of BA.1 infections rapidly increased; however, BA.2 has not become much of a problem.
If this sequence of ever-more infectious variants has a silver lining, is that it is growing in tandem with the immunity levels of a given population. The outbreak of each new variant results in fewer deaths simply because a growing number of individuals are able to resist further infection. SARS-CoV-2 is also far more susceptible to change than other respiratory viruses. The transmissibility of new SARS-CoV-2 variants is expected to eventually hit a plateau, just as did coronaviruses that cause the common cold. But in the meantime, the status quo of this virus remains unknown over the next decade.
The BA.2 Omicron sub-variants origin is still not clear; however, it has rapidly become the primary strain in many countries, including India, South Africa, and Denmark. It also continues to spread across Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. BA.2 has eight unique mutations not found in BA.1 and lacks 13 mutations of BA.1. It is now the dominant variant in the US, accounting for more than 50% of cases.
In order to determine the type of COVID infection, tests must be carried out. While initial symptoms may be relatively similar, the intensity or even prevalence of certain symptoms, such as a loss of taste or even smell, may differ. Certain symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, brain fog, coughing, muscle pains, etc., may linger for weeks or even months.
Just like over 100 years ago, when the Spanish flu wreaked havoc on global populations, individuals over time gradually began to develop immunity to it. The same is expected in the case of COVID and its yet many yet-to-be-discovered strains. All that can be done at this point is to ensure that the masses are inoculated regularly and that they continue to practice various health & safety fundamentals or best practices that have been suggested by experts to minimize or even curb further contagion.