Omicron – The New Variant Of COVID-19: Risks And Safety Precautions

By Shantanu Sodhi +2 more

This article has been medically reviewed and fact-checked by Dr Nikita Toshi.

The SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill when it first spread across the globe at the beginning of 2020. Amidst lockdowns and strict travel restrictions, the virus mutated as it spread among more people. When finally it seemed like the worst was behind us (thanks to an extensive vaccination scheme), we got the news that there’s a new strain doing the rounds! Omicron strain is the latest mutation identified by scientists in South Africa.

Read to know more about the new strain of COVID-19 and how you can protect yourself from it. 

All about the Omicron strain 

Scientists in South Africa reported the development of a new strain of the COVID-19 virus, called B.1.1.529, on November 24th, 2021. The World Health Organisation (WHO) named it Omicron, following the tradition of using Greek nomenclature to denote the strains of the virus. The strains before the Omicron were named alpha, beta, gamma, Delta variant, etc. The new variant (Omicron) has been named while skipping the two letters in the Greek alphabet ‘Nu’ and ‘Xi’. [1]

When we talk about the origin story of the variant, experts from South Africa notified on 2nd December 2021 that the origin of Omicron was unknown. On the other hand, as per theories released by Livescience, the Omicron variant was believed to have possibly evolved in rodents. Whichever statement might be true, it can be said that not much is known about the Omicron variant and further studies are underway. But with the spread of the Omicron variant, researchers also shared thoughts of the COVID-19 virus becoming endemic. 

The health implications of the Omicron strain are still being tested by scientists around the world, however, the number of positive COVID-19 tests in South Africa indicate that this new strain is potentially fast-spreading because the Omicron strain has a high number of mutations in the ‘spike protein’ associated with COVID-19. [2]

It is essential to maintain safety protocols as the virus is already spreading in India and other nations like Israel, the United Kingdom, the US, Belgium, Botswana, Canada and Hong Kong. The WHO considers this as a Variant of Concern (VOC) for now and many countries gearing up to issue travel bans as a response to stop its spread. 

You should feel better within a couple of weeks after getting infected with covid and getting appropriate treatment, if your symptoms persist beyond 4-8 weeks, you should follow up with your doctor to rule out long covid.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D.

How does Omicron affect us?

By now, you might be feeling quite gloomy after knowing that several subvariants and sublineages of Omicron have been confirmed in India. You might also wonder how these new variations affect you and their health implications. There are a lot of assumptions like getting affected by the Omicron strain is more likely for people who have already been affected by COVID-19 before. Only mild infections have been noticed among individuals affected by this strain. 


There are concerns about sublineages of the Omicron strain having the ability to evade the immune system and cause breakthrough vaccine (infection after getting vaccinated). Whether the Omicron strain can trigger severe symptoms and effects will be confirmed only after further testing. For now, reinfection of individuals remains the most considerable risk.

It’s too early to state anything specific about the characteristics or severity of the new subvariants. It is important to stay calm, not panic and follow all safety measures sincerely.

Are Sub Variants of Omicron a cause of concern?

Several subvariants of Omicron – BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, BA.2.75 and many more have been identified in different countries across the globe. It is important to understand that all of these subvariants or sublineages are of Omicron variant of Covid-19 which is classified as a Variant Of Concern (VoC) therefore all these subvariants are also categorised as VoC. With the ongoing studies, more information on the rate of transmission and severity of these subvariants can be gained.  

Omicron is a variant of COVID virus due to mutation. Omicron shows a 13-fold increase in viral infectivity and is 2.8 times more infectious than the Delta variant. That’s why it’s a variant of concern.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

How is Omicron different from the Delta variant?

The delta variant of COVID-19 was discovered first in India and was responsible for the 2nd wave of the pandemic in the country. According to current studies, the Omicron variant has many more mutations in its spike protein than the delta variant. It is assumed that this variant is more transmissible than the delta variant, which can cause concern.

The delta variant of the virus is responsible for heavy infections and mortality. The delta variant of the virus is a lethal variant and current reports are yet to confirm the severity of illness caused by the Omicron variant. The reinfection and transmissibility rates are predicted to be much higher in the Omicron variant. But, more studies and data are needed to understand this variant better.


Also Read: Omicron vs Other Variants

Symptoms of the Omicron Sub-variants

There have been no reports of any unusual symptoms noticed in people affected by the omicron subvariants so far. Thus, the current scenario suggests that symptoms of the Omicron sub-variant can be the same as what was being noticed in the earlier strains of the virus. Some of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 include – fever, weakness, loss of smell, shortness of breath, chest pain and loss of taste, sore throat, cough, stomach ache and diarrhoea. A person may present with a few or more of the symptoms mentioned. We are yet to receive confirmatory data on the severity and symptoms of the new subvariants of Omicron. [4]

Which tests can detect the Omicron strains?

The SARS-CoV-2 RT- PCR and Rapid antigen test (RAT) for Covid-19 can detect COVID-19 infection even with the new virus strains reported at present. This will not confirm the type of variant or sub-variant samples of suspected people reported positive by RT-PCR test are sent for genome sequencing for confirmation of the Variant type.

What Are the Precautions for Omicron Virus? 

The best way to stay safe currently is by following all WHO and Government-mandated safety measures for Omicron –

  1. Get vaccinated if you haven’t.
  2. Maintain physical distancing, 
  3. Limit your travel outside as much as possible and avoid crowding at all costs.
  4. Wear a mask when stepping out or meeting any outsider.
  5. Follow hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  6. Do not ignore any signs of illness (fever, weakness, sore throat) and consult your doctor immediately.

BA.2.75 is said to have a higher transmission rate than other Omicron sub-lineages. Surveillance for the new sub-variants has been increased in all countries, including India, to monitor the spread. Symptoms are more or less similar for different sub-variants. We must be aware and safe by following Covid’s appropriate behaviour to the best possible.


The Omicron sub-variants are spreading rapidly but on a positive note, we have a strong vaccination drive in place. People who have been affected by severe COVID-19 previously or those with other comorbidities need to stay extra cautious as the rate of reinfection is thought to be high in some of the new subvariants. If you follow all safety protocols and maintain good hygiene, you can lower the risk of infection from the new variant. Be responsible for limiting the spread of the virus and encourage the maintenance of safety protocols among your peers.

Also Read: Do Existing Vaccines Work Against Omicron?


Q1. Can Omicron kill you?


Ans: Scientists are yet to confirm how deadly the Omicron variant might turn out to be. One must follow all safety measures to minimise the risk of infection.

Q2. Can the Omicron virus evade vaccines?

Ans: As per reports, it is too early to establish a statement on the efficacy of vaccines against the new Omicron virus. At the same time, there is no evidence to suggest the ineffectiveness of vaccines against the new COVID variant. Vaccines are always going to help humans in this battle against the virus. 

Q3. How was the Omicron virus formed?

Ans: It is the prime nature of a virus to evolve as it spreads and replicates from host to host. Mutations can bring about changes like the virus- making it weak at times and strong as well. With regards to the formation of this virus, there are three assumptions; one, the virus first infected an animal and then spread amongst humans. Two, around mid-2020, the strain had already started doing the rounds and by the end of 2021, it had undergone a significant degree of mutations and was in a very transmissible stage. Three, another assumption is that the virus probably evolved in an immunocompromised person and then started spreading to others. Needless to say, none of these claims is backed by solid proof and remain debatable.

Q4. Where was the Omicron variant discovered?


Ans: As per news reports, the origin country of the Omicron virus is South Africa. 

Q5. When was the Omicron virus first detected?

Ans: The Omicron virus was first detected in South Africa in November 2021. 

Q6. Has the Omicron virus arrived in India?

Ans: Yes, Omicron and its several subvariants have been reported in India. 

Q7. Will schools be shut down due to the Omicron virus?


Ans: It is being estimated that physical attendance in schools might see a drop owing to the circulation of news about the increase in cases due to subvariants of the Omicron virus. 

Q8. Will there be another lockdown due to the Omicron virus?

Ans: Following the Omicron Virus positive test results in India, the Health Ministry has officially announced that there will not be any need for a lockdown immediately. However, the public is strongly advised to follow all appropriate Covid guidelines and get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

Q9. Will the Omicron virus end the Pandemic?

Ans: There is no evidence to confirm that the Omicron virus will end the pandemic.

Q10. Will the Omicron virus affect travel?


Ans: Following reports of the Omicron virus, the Union Health Ministry has laid specific travel guidelines for international passengers. Even if you are planning domestic travel, check the travel guidelines of that particular area and follow COVID-appropriate behaviour to ensure your safety and the safety of others. 

Q11. Is the Omicron Virus fast-spreading?

Ans: Based on the mutations present in the new COVID variant, there are predictions that the Omicron virus may spread faster than the previous variants. But we need to wait for some more time to understand the exact nature of this virus.

Also Read: Omicron Variant: Latest Updates and News

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.


  1. https://www.who.int/en/activities/tracking-SARS-CoV-2-variants/
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03552-w
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/vaccine-induced-immunity.html
  4. https://www.who.int/news/item/26-11-2021-classification-of-omicron-(b.1.1.529)-sars-cov-2-variant-of-concern
  5. https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/GuidelinesforInternationalarrival28112021.pdf


You may also like

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Very informative

Vinod Jain

Very nice.

Ashir Sahal

Thank you, glad you liked it.

Vinod Mahajan

Please provide us all necessary informations from time to time at this crucial hour

Ashir Sahal

Stay tuned for the latest updates. We’ll keep on working to help you get authentic information at the earliest.

Satish Kalal

Health is very important for all people. We should not be careless, we should safeguard ourselves & raise awareness for others also.

Ashir Sahal

Totally agree. Please stay tuned for more such information and keep sharing.

Porus Patel

Very Informative & hope things be taken in positive perspective. Need to increase mental health thru meditation etc. rather than Physical well being. Please also gv more updates

Ashir Sahal

Thanks alot for your feedback. Glad you found this post helpful. Stay tuned for more such updates.

Akil patel

Very nice and useful information awesome thanks 👍 regards

Ashir Sahal

You are most welcome. Glad you liked it.