Health

Existing Vaccines Still Effective Against Omicron Variant, Boosters Should Be Taken: MOH

Vaccines Especially Protective Against Severe Illness, Global Scientists Say

Though much is still unknown about it, the Omicron Variant has still caused ripples of dread to spread globally.

One burning question that many might have is whether the vaccines we’ve been getting will still work against the new strain.

To that, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has assured that they’ve still effective, according to scientists around the world.

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They thus repeated the message we’ve been hearing often this year: Get your vaccinations and booster shots.

Emerging view of scientists around the world

In a press release on Sunday (5 Dec), MOH told the public what they knew so far about the Omicron Variant.

One of the things shared was an “emerging view amongst scientists around the world”: Covid-19 vaccines still work, even with Omicron.

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This is especially true when it comes to protecting against severe illness, the ministry said.

Thus, the “strong scientific consensus” is that we should take vaccinations and boosters.

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They’ll protect us against current and future variants, even as the scientists continue to study their effectiveness.

ARTs also effective

Besides vaccines, another now-ubiquitous tool in the fight against Covid-19 are Antigen Rapid Tests (ART).

Some might wonder how sensitive they are to the Omicron Variant.

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MOH has said that ARTs are effective in detecting Omicron cases, based on relevant studies they’ve been closely monitoring.

This is in addition to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test – a local company has said theirs can detect the Omicron and Delta variants.

S’pore Company’s Test Kits Can Detect Omicron & Delta Variants, They’re Manufactured Locally

Omicron more transmissible, but mild

In order to fight it effectively, we have to know the nature of the beast.

Based on MOH-reviewed reports from South Africa, the Omicron Variant might be more transmissible.

Those who’ve recovered from Covid-19 may also have a higher chance of getting reinfected, the clinical observations suggest.

However, the good news is that the variant might be less severe, as most global cases have had mild symptoms like sore throat, tiredness and cough.

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Better yet, no deaths have been reported due to the Omicron Variant so far.

Although, more young adults and children infected with Omicron were hospitalised in South Africa, this could be partly due to 2 factors:

  1. high infection rate in the population
  2. non-Covid-19 hospital patients testing positive for Omicron, but having mild symptoms

Many questions remain

MOH did put out a caveat on the Omicron Variant, though, saying,

Many questions remain with no clear answers.

The ministry pointed out that it’s early days yet to conclude whether it’s more severe than the Delta Variant, as it was 1st detected in a South African university town with a younger population.

As such, when those infected have stayed in hospital, it was for only 1-2 days.

More information is needed about what happens to older people when they get infected.

More cases expected in the community

Unfortunately, MOH also concluded that more cases of Omicron can be expected in our community “in time to come”.

This is since more infections will be reported around the world and, in turn, Singapore’s borders.

That’s why we’ve taken measures to reduce the chances that the variant will take root in the country, like making foreign arrivals take daily tests.

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MOH is actively working with international health authorities to find out more about the Omicron Variant so we can respond in the best possible manner.

Not time to panic

Kudos to the MOH for sharing what they know, and what they don’t know, about the Omicron Variant.

Though much is still undetermined on the strain, it seems it’s not time to panic yet as our existing measures remain functional.

While we wait for more data, it’ll be a good idea to continue following safety measures and exercising social responsibility to protect the community.

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Featured images adapted from Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash.

Jeremy Lee

Analog person making do with a digital world.