The extraordinary transmissibility of Omicron’s sub-variant 5 it is demonstrated by the numbers of contagion throughout Western Europe: Italy alone in January had so many infected in one day (over 133 thousand); in one week, positives increased by 55 percent while hospitalizations rose by 30 percent. The situation in France, Spain and Germany is similar. Experts argue that a person with Omicron 5 infects another 15, even if it is favored by the fact that in Italy, but also in other countries, the vast majority of the population no longer uses masks and this, compared to other variants. that we tried to counter by paying more attention, feeds the contagion. The great heat of these days on the other hand reduces the beneficial effect that should offer the fact that in the summer we spend more time outdoors: we all look for the refreshment of conditioned air and this increases the hours we spend indoors.
Omicron 5, symptoms and severity
From a clinical point of view, scientists confirm that Omicron 5 mainly affects the upper respiratory tract, causing less pneumonia than Delta. However, there is a problem, as explained by the Gemelli infectious disease specialist, Roberto Cauda, in an interview with the Messenger: even if fortunately the percentage of serious cases is low, out of a huge total of positives it still represents a significant absolute number. Also, according to Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute, Omicron 5 may be the worst virus we’ve ever seen around because it’s highly transmissible. A major problem is that it can also infect those who have been positive recently, according to Cauda even just a month ago, even if they were infected with other Omicron sub-variants.
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The immune escape
The immune leak that bypasses, at least as regards protection from infection, even vaccines, is the real problem. The current vaccine update must overcome this obstacle: they have been studied for the previous versions of Omicron, while on the horizon there is not only the massive diffusion of the 5, substantially different, but also the diffusion of new sub-variants, such as the Ba.2.75, which has 11 mutations that distinguish it from 5, with an even greater immune leak.
The vaccine effect on the disease
It should also be said, the experts explain, that strengthening immunity with booster doses remains important, because protection against serious disease remains. Still, the administration of the fourth dose for those over 80 is slow. Finally, it must be said that the experience of Portugal, the first nation in Western Europe to face the impressive spread of Omicron 5, also offers some glimmers of optimism because after an impetuous growth, cases are now decreasing and hospitals, despite a strong pressure, they held.