Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Omicron – all you need to know

On January 8, 2022, Seniors Today started the year with our weekly Health Webinar sessions. This Saturday we hosted Dr Kirti Sabnis to speak and answer questions on the Omicron scare and Covid care for seniors.

Dr Kirti Sabnis, Infectious Disease Specialist, Fortis Hospital, Mumbai  has completed her MBBS from the Dr DY Patil Medical College, Kolhapur and is a Postgraduate, Diplomate of National Board in Infectious Diseases from Bangalore Baptist Hospital, Bangalore. She has also done a two-year Postdoctoral Clinical Fellowship in Infectious Diseases, Christian Medical College, Vellore.  With nearly a decade’s experience in infectious diseases and specialised training on HIV treatment, Venereal Diseases, Immunisation, Infectious diseases and tuberculosis, Dr Kirti Sabnis plays a crucial role in the battle against Covid-19. Not just patient care, she has also extended her efforts to community care, by leading multiple digital initiatives that were aimed at community education  empowerment.

This is a respiratory virus. In any given year, you must have noticed children and the elderly falling sick or catching the flu, much like that is the nature of the virus. A respiratory virus can have recurrent and frequent changes in the structure.

We cannot avoid getting the infection, but we can avoid the complications it might lead to.

The omicron variant is a mutation of the old covid-19 virus; regarding which we have very limited literature with us. But it is noted that this variant has a higher infectivity rate.

Does higher infectivity rate equal to higher complications? So far, the individuals requiring intensive care and respiratory support are less. But since we are only in the beginning of the wave, it might be a little early/ premature to comment on the same.

Omicron is causing complications in individuals who have comorbidities and are over the age of 65 years.

One question that is being commonly raised is “why am I getting infected despite receiving both doses of the Covid 19 vaccine? Does this mean that the vaccine is ineffective?”

There are vaccines for all sorts of diseases, that does not mean that no one will catch the disease, it however does reduce the complications associated with the disease.

Depending on the mutations of the genetic composition of the virus, yes there is a possibility that the current vaccine might not work for the new variant.

Flu shot helps in individuals  who have prior known lung diseases, require oxygen support, known diabetics since the flu shot/ vaccine essentially prevents the individual from catching other lung I infections. It essentially prevents secondary infections.

Avoid unnecessary travel, for at least the next month or two.

The omicron strain will take over the Delta strain of Covid-19.

The disease caused by the omicron and its presentation is milder in individuals who do not have comorbidities.

The best mask for when you’re in a closed space, in a space where there is little to no ventilation it is advised that you use an N-95 mask. Same goes for healthcare workers and individuals visiting a hospital or place where the number of positive cases is higher.

If you’re going to the market or any other heavily crowded place, it is best if you- a) avoid the place altogether b) maintain proper social distancing when you’re out in public c) wear an N-95 mask.

If you’re travelling in a moving vehicle which is well ventilated or has open windows, you can wear a double mask- a cloth mask with a surgical mask or a double cloth or surgical mask.

Dr Noor Gill
Dr Noor Gill, MBBS, deciphers the space between heartbeats, figuratively and literally. Powered by frequent long naps and caffeine, she believes that “knowledge without giving back to society is meaningless” and works to make caring cool again.

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