The World Health Organization also advises wealthy nations to deliver leftover vaccines to developing countries to slow the rate of transmission in those countries.
The new Omicron variant creates uncertainty for the pandemic
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
During the Coronavirus Pandemic so far, there were cases not only from the original virus which was discovered in China but also cases from variants around the world. While each variant is discovered in a specific country, it is unknown which country is the originator of the variant. All the variants are more transmissible than the original virus and still not resistant to the Coronavirus vaccine.
Similar to the Delta variant, which was first discovered in India, the new variant recently discovered might extend the length of the pandemic. On November 24, scientists in South Africa reported a variant of the Coronavirus named B.1.1.529. This variant has more mutations than the original virus which can lead to the virus being spread more easily.
Because a lot of people in the country and its neighbours are not yet fully vaccinated, it led to a surge of cases across the African continent. However, earlier cases in the Netherlands sh0wcased similar features to the Omicron variant, raising questions about its origin. At this time, the Omicron variant’s place of origin is unclear. Many health organizations and officials are currently investigating how the variant was formed, while developers of the Coronavirus vaccines work to determine if they offer effective protection against the variant.
The obvious choice to prevent the spread of a new variant of the Coronavirus is to impose travel restrictions on the impacted countries. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends against this as individual self-isolation and safety precautions can effectively prevent the spread. WHO also advises wealthy nations to deliver leftover vaccines to developing countries to slow the rate of transmission in those countries.
Despite South Africa getting compliments for discovering the Omicron variant, cases of the variant have been found as it circulated the world including a case in British Columbia. This could create more problems for the outbreak that is currently happening in the northern part of the province. If the Coronavirus vaccine is not effective against the variant, it could lead to smaller gatherings and possibly lockdowns again.
Also, the BC Vaccine Card is starting to be required in more places including worship centres operating at full capacity. Like the early days of the pandemic, events and film releases could be delayed or cancelled again if theatres are closed due to a surge in cases. But if more people get the vaccine and still practice social distancing, there is hope the pandemic may recede by the start of summer.