It is crucial to follow the preventive measures against coronavirus, such as the use of facemasks.
The information about COVID-19 and its new variants is constantly changing.
Therefore, during an online event held by the Government of San Nicolás de los Garza, Dr. Miguel Ángel Sanz, Medical Director of Hospital Clínica Nova, answered the most frequently asked questions about the current situation of COVID-19.
How do new variants arise?
Dr. Sanz explained to the online viewers what COVID-19 consists of and how new variants arise. “People get confused over what a mutation and a variant is. Every time a human being gets infected by the virus, it obviously enters the body and is subsequently transmitted to another one. When such transmission occurs, small mutations happen”, he explained.
“When changing from a human being to another, and as these mutations accumulate, there are changes in this virus’ behavior in regards of the previous variant. It is then when new variants arise. In other words, it’s a mechanism of evolution and adaptation of the virus.”
Everything You Need to Know about the Omicron Variant
Everything You Need to Know about the Omicron Variant
Omicron, A Much More Contagious Variant
The Omicron variant has a “shocking” quantity of mutations that adds up to more than 50. “The main characteristic is that 32 mutations are in the spike protein, which is why there are complications in regards the vaccines. The spike protein is what the virus uses to enter cells and infect us. The problem is that the globally licensed vaccines were developed based on the spike protein of the original virus,” he said.
“Since Omicron has more than 32 mutations, it can partially evade the effect of vaccines, which is why today we see a large number of people partially vaccinated, fully vaccinated, and with booster doses who come out infected.”
This does not mean that the vaccines are not effective against this disease, since any of the biologics helps to prevent the risk of infection and complications from this disease.
If you have a chance, get vaccinated against the coronavirus!
Is the Omicron variant less serious?
“The problem with this variant is that it affects the cells of the upper respiratory tract and replicates very quickly, which is why it is more transmissible. However, it does not affect the lower airway (the lungs) as much. In fact, their mortality is lower,” he commented.
“However, it must be considered that the greater the proportion of sick people, being much more contagious than the previous ones, the more likely it will reach a human being who could have a complicated case, and that person will have to be rushed into the hospital. We run the risk of having a high hospital occupancy due to the large volume of infected people.”
The fact that this variant is much more transmissible puts humanity at risk of the emergence of another one that is even more contagious and deadly.
To support the federal, state, and municipal authorities, Ternium and Hospital Clínica Nova set up a COVID-19 Vaccination Center at Club Nova.
When will the pandemic end?
“The big question is, when will the pandemic end? Every one of us wants to go back to our previous lifestyle, but reality tells us that this is not going to go away. The virus is here to stay. There will come a time when we are going to learn to live with the virus, not in a pandemic way, but in an endemic one,” he said.
“This means that it is going to behave, for instance, like influenza, which is simply a superior flu and which we apply a vaccine every year for. We will even most likely have the option to have an outpatient oral treatment”.
However, he warned that there is still no tentative date on which the pandemic will become endemic since the reality is that vaccination is still behind schedule worldwide.
“The level of protection worldwide is very unequal between countries. The reality is that at any moment a new strain that is transmitted more quickly and that causes more serious symptoms can appear. So, since the situation between the countries is not even, I find it difficult for us to see a change from a pandemic to an endemic one, I think we need some time,” he said saddened.
Take care of yourself and protect your family!
During the online event, which was moderated by Daniel Carrillo, mayor of San Nicolás de los Garza, Dr. Sanz stated that the third dose increases protection against this disease, especially for hospitalization and death issues.
“The need of a fourth dose is still unknown, we already know that the protection is strong for what matters the most, which is to avoid hospitalizations. As all the vaccines that are currently active today were developed based on the original variant, and the virus is very different nowadays, the biologicals are required to be modified,” he said.
“Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are already working on adapting their vaccine to this new Omicron variant. When these biologicals are available, they will also help us control the rate of transmission because we will have strong protection against getting infected.”
How It Is Actually Transmitted
COVID-19 is transmitted through aerosol particles suspended in the air. Unlike what was initially thought (that it was possible to get infected through surfaces), the truth is that the vast majority of cases that turned positive happened via airway.
“Even if I am at a table in a restaurant and the other person is far away, if there is not good ventilation, I might get sick. These particles stay suspended in the air depending on the quality of the ventilation of the space, which is why we hear everywhere that we must avoid closed and confined spaces.”
Sanz stressed that the best way to prevent this disease is to use N95 or FFP2 face masks, ventilate spaces, avoid crowds, and have a complete vaccination certificate, as well as the booster dose.
Getting vaccinated against the coronavirus is one of the main measures to take care of yourself against this disease.
If I test positive for COVID-19, how long do I have to isolate myself?
“The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), previously recommended 10 days of isolation but has now shortened it to 5 because the entire workforce is compromised. Even the hospitals in that country were struggling to have enough staff.”
“That's why they shortened it to five days, which is a bit risky. Other countries shortened it to seven. The recommendation is seven-day isolation. Only five, though, if an antigen test on the fifth day is performed and it comes out negative.”
To listen to the full webinar, click on this link.