Col Ikram Ullah Chitral

New variant of Covid – symptoms & precautionary measures

Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan

While the world is still busy in battling the coronavirus old variants, a new variant named BA.4 and BA.5 omicron is reported to have raised its head and is spreading at a meteoric speed. The new variant, BA.4 and BA.5 as it’s called, however, is quite unintelligible to a layman like me. Only those attached with medical profession can understand and  explain it in a better way. 

The new version is said to be highly transmissible and less susceptible to vaccines which were quite effective against old versions of coronavirus so far experienced by the world. 
According to virologists, the latest variant of omicron may spread its tentacles more swiftly as compared to earlier versions as it is found adept at dodging antibodies produced by vaccines and previous infections. Immunity gained after recovery from previous infections, according to researchers, does little to hinder infections from omicron new variant as mentioned earlier.
One of my friends who recently suffered from the latest version and still on the path of recovery which according to him is painfully slow, told me that he contracted the virus despite having suffered from earliest version of COVID-19 two years back and having got vaccinated coupled with booster shots. According to him, the new version of the virus is more damaging and harmful than COVID-19 and even its delta variant as it gets human body completely drained. According to him, it makes its appearance with mild intensity to begin with and makes its existence felt more aggressively as time goes by.

Symptoms

As for the symptoms of the disease, according to virologists, most of the symptoms are the same as of initial symptoms of COVID-19, like light fever, headache, shivering, soar throat with running nose, dry cough and muscle pain, stomach disorder and in some cases even nausea and vomiting, etc with one possible difference that it’s less likely than earlier variants to cause a loss of taste and smell. 

Precautionary measures

Though a number of precautionary measures like hand washing at appropriate intervals, keeping safe distance, avoiding crowd and  indiscriminate mixing, use of sanitizer and other hygienic measures may be adopted to safeguard oneself from the virus, face-masking remains the basic and most effective measure. While mentioning face-masking, it reminds me of a jolly friend of mine who once said that face-masking is a compulsive veiling from God for those women who like to display their facial beauty in public which is not recommended in Islam. Anyway, these are the inscrutable ways of Providence to discipline His creatures and make them obey His commands willy-nilly when they are found intent on violating them. 
Lastly, according to researchers, research studies suggest that full vaccination plus booster shot repeated after six months is likely to provide strong protection against the new variant. These researchers are of the view that people who receive booster shots have greater chance of quick recovery and are 80% less likely to be admitted to hospital compared with unvaccinated people. However, as it’s observed that vaccinated people are equally vulnerable to the virus and are found suffering from the new variant as vaccination doesn’t provide protection from contracting the disease.
All said and done, the importance of vaccination can’t be downplayed. It’s in the interest of all and sundry to observe precautionary measures forming part of WHO’s health protocols to save ourselves and our  young generation from falling prey to this catastrophic virus which seems to have been sent down to tame defiant humanity.

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