What are the differences between Omicron 2 and Omicron?
«Omicron 2 differs genetically, in the sense that there are mutations that differentiate it from Omicron – explains Professor Bonfanti. – There are variations of the Spike protein, the key to entry into cells, which make it more akin to human cells. L’World Health Organization believes that it has many similarities to Omicron, so it is considered a sub-variant of it, with which it has similarities and differences. For example, a increased contagiousness. Which is why she has similarities with Omicron and makes her even more contagious than the first. “
«R0 is a value that evaluates the transmissibility of a disease. The greater the number, the greater the transmissibility of the virus»Explains Bonfanti. As also indicated byHigher Institute of Health, “The number indicates how many people can be infected by the virus at the beginning of the epidemic, in a phase in which no specific interventions (pharmacological or otherwise) are normally carried out to control the infectious phenomenon. R0 therefore represents the potential for transmission, or transmissibility, of an uncontrolled infectious disease“.
Because Omicron 2 is more contagious
“Currently there are vaccinated people and those who have had the disease, people therefore protected from the disease. But R0 12 means that Omicron 2 is extremely contagious»Adds Bonfanti. “The original strain had an R0 calculated between 2 and 3. It is an almost totally new virus from the Wuhan starter strain, extremely contagious. Only measles is more contagiousluckily most people are vaccinated or have already had the disease. This explains why the numbers are rising: most of the infections concern children and adolescents who are not vaccinated or not yet sick ».
Do the 3 doses of vaccine protect against this variant? How long after the third dose?
Can anyone who had Covid some time ago, for example in December, be recontacted? «It is unlikely because from the first evidences those who have had Omicron 1 are unlikely to become infected with Omicron 2. Omicron 1 was already in circulation in December. Those who have had the Delta variant – or other variants can recontact themselves in 3% of cases “, explains Professor Bonfanti.
Three doses of the vaccine protect more and better
«It has been seen that those who have received the booster also reduce the likelihood of contagion and developing a form of serious disease. Two doses are not enough, you have to complete the cycle with the third dose to have a more complete and lasting protection. The very old or immunosuppressed people are less protected, so the vaccine does not always have total efficacy. For this reason, the fourth dose is proposed to the categories at risk: immunosuppressed, people with great frailties, those with oncohematological diseases, HIV in severe form, dialysis patients. But at least 120 days must have passed since the third dose ».
Are swabs effective in detecting Omicron 2?
«Yes they detect it. The molecular was able to detect immediately that it was Omicron. The data collected by a National Surveillance about 7 days ago highlighted that at this moment there are only Omicron 1 and Omicron 2, which has already reached over 40% », continues the expert.
Is Omicron 2 like a cold?
“No. Surely today we register less severe forms that end up in intensive care, but there are still many pneumonia. The sub-variant is less aggressive but continues to cause pneumonia. This lower severity is due to the fact that most of the population is vaccinated, if we were not it would be uncontrollable. It now predominantly affects the unvaccinated, children or elderly people with comorbidities. At the moment, in Lombardy alone we have more than 500 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants a week. Very high numbers»Explains Bonfanti.
What are the symptoms?
«In most cases it is a classic respiratory form. But compared to Omicron 1 there are more cases with gastrointestinal symptoms, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, gastroenteritis ».
What therapies are currently indicated?
«In the hospital it is exactly the same as before, but today we also have the early therapies given to slightly symptomatic patients who have risk factors for developing the most severe forms. New ones are opening up in Italy Early therapy outpatient clinics, in which people with previous medical conditions that could have severe forms of Covid receive appropriate treatment within 5 days of the onset of symptoms. To access treatment, the general practitioner must be notified as soon as symptoms are felt, so as to perform the swab as soon as possible and check if it is Covid 19.The general practitioner will report the case to the clinic. In Monza, where since the beginning of the pandemic we have treated over 5 thousand people, we also have thePost covid outpatient clinic in which we follow the patients who have had the most severe forms », concludes Professor Bonfanti.