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VERIFIED CONTENTConsultation: Piotr Rzymski - Polish medical and environmental biologist, dr hab. medical sciences, popularizer of science

A new variant of the coronavirus called Omikron is spreading extremely quickly and may accumulate further SARS-CoV-2 mutations. According to World He alth Organization director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, " although Omikron causes symptoms less severe than the Delta variant, it remains a very dangerous virus, especially for people who have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine." Why is it worth getting vaccinated? Important reasons are given by the medical biologist Dr. Peter of Rome!

The Omikron variant was first detected in samples collected on November 11, 2022 in Botswana and November 14, 2022 in South Africa (South Africa). Since then, a new variant of the coronavirus, called Omikron, is spreading much faster than its predecessor, Delta.

Experts from the World He alth Organization (WHO) recognized this variant of SARS-CoV-2 as highly contagious. Recently, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that "the more Omicron circulates among the population, the greater the risk of another variant of the coronavirus emerging, which will be even more infectious and even more deadly."

Vaccination against COVID-19. 8 reasons you should know

COVID-19 vaccines are considered to be the most effective method of fighting the pandemic. A priority in each country is to achieve a herd immunity threshold of 60-70%. the fully vaccinated population. In practice, however, this is not the case. According to the head of WHO, 92 out of 194 member countries of the organization did not achieve the goal of vaccinating 40 percent of society, especially now that Omikron is causing a sharp increase in the disease.

In this pandemic crisis, experts and doctors are encouraging vaccination to protect against the severe course of COVID-19. Medical biologist dr hab. Piotr Rzymski from the Medical University of Karol Marcinkowski in Poznań also gave the floor on this matter. He listed 8 reasons why it is worth getting vaccinated to avoid contamination with the Omikron variant.

1. It is highly transmissive

WHO warns within 2 monthsthe Omikron variant can infect half of Europe's population. This means that the probability that we will meet him is high. The question is, do we prefer to play Russian roulette and hope that the infection will be mild or help minimize the effects of a possible encounter with the Omikron variant through vaccinations?

2. Escapes from the action of antibodies of vaccinated people

Research shows that the Omikron variant is more easily able to escape the antibodies of the vaccinated than other variants. This increases the risk of so-called breakthrough infection. The analyzes show, however, that the cellular response, the most important element of a specific antiviral response - strictly: helper T and cytotoxic T cells - recognizes the Omikron variant very well.

How to understand it? The Omikron variant is much easier to sneak through the entanglements made of antibodies, because it attacks with great force and, in addition, is well disguised. After penetrating the territory of the vaccinated person, however, it is quickly recognized by the armored lymphocyte troops thoroughly trained in the field of enemy characteristics and destroyed by them. Such a battle is symptomatic at times, mostly alleviated. In some cases, we may not even know that it has been fought. Unvaccinated people who have never been infected with SARS-CoV-2 have neither antibodies against them, nor a trained military.

3. Uncertainty about the effects of the Omicron

The Omikron variant is a relatively new version of SARS-CoV-2, it was detected in mid-November in Africa. The exact effects of infection with it, including long-term consequences, are unknown. Since vaccination can reduce the risk of infection, and in the case of infection - the clinical severity and long-term effects of COVID-19 - it is a rational decision, especially considering the prognosis for the near future. Poland is unprepared for the attack of the Omikron variant on many levels, including the low degree of vaccination of the population.

4. The omicron can turn out to be dangerous

Omikron is presented as a milder version of the coronavirus compared to other variants. This does not mean that it is a harmless variant. With such an outstanding transmissivity in poorly vaccinated populations, it can quickly cause tragic consequences in the form of a very large number of hospitalizations, failure of the entire he alth care system, excess deaths due to causes other than COVID-19, the economic blockade and as a result of further deepening of the economic crisis in the country, which is already plaguing the country. , disturbances in education at all levels.

5. Create sufficient immune protection

By starting the vaccination now, in mid-January, we will have sufficient immune response levels in the spring, when Omikron is expected to dominate completely, with a high number of infections, a huge number of hospitalizations and a huge number of deaths.

6. Increasing the amount of antibodies

It is not true that receiving the first two vaccines does not protect against the Omikron variant. First, people who received the second dose 5-6 months ago may already have serum levels of antibodies that are too low to neutralize the Omikron variant, but still have an efficient cellular response that should in most cases defeat the virus quickly in the event of an infection. Second, those who take a second dose soon will have high levels of antibodies, which will increase protection against infection. In addition, they will develop a specific cellular response, thanks to which the effects of infection will be reduced to mild in most cases. However, people who received a second dose at least 5 months ago should seek a booster dose to increase their antibody levels.

7. The more people vaccinated, the lower the frequency of mutating the virus

The organism of the vaccinated person is less favorable to the survival of the virus. Thus, the time for the pathogen to multiply is significantly reduced. Considering the fact that mutations are the result of random errors during the multiplication of viral genetic material, the risk of the emergence of further dangerous mutations leading to the further evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is limited. Research indicates that the more people vaccinated in a population, the lower the frequency of mutating the coronavirus.

8. Vaccination as an act of patriotism

Forecasts for the next two months are appalling for Poland. First, we are a very poorly vaccinated population, and this favors the Omikron variant. Secondly, the current weather conditions also help him transmit. Third, he althcare is now on the verge of exhaustion. Preparing for the increase in the number of patients is not only about providing new beds. Medicines and staff are needed, and that is simply not enough. The prognosis for the next two months is dramatic: a huge number of hospitalizations, a huge number of dying Poles.

If these forecasts come true, we must take into account a complete failure of he alth protection in the face of other challenges, such as heart attacks, cancer and others. This will translate into a further increase in excess deaths. Consequencesthe economic situation of this situation will be exacerbated by the prevailing crisis. Children will suffer from distance learning. In a situation where policymakers have not made vaccination compulsory, we must take responsibility on our own shoulders. Vaccination is a true act of patriotism and social responsibility. It is a war in which each of us can become a soldier fighting for the lowest possible losses.

ExpertPiotr Rzymski - Polish medical and environmental biologist, dr hab. medical sciences, popularizer of scienceMedical and environmental biologist, co-author of over 150 scientific publications, academic lecturer, science promoter, science journalist. Scholarship holder of the Foundation for Polish Science and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, expert of the EU Research Executive Agency, ambassador of the international scientific network Universal Scientific Education and Research Network (USERN), member of the Program Council of the "Science Against Pandemic" initiativeProbe

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