According to health authorities, Omicron, the latest SARS-CoV-2 variant detected last November in South Africa, is the most mutated to date. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that this new mutation is a “variant of concern” because it is very different from the original version of Covid first identified in Wuhan, China. It is more contagious, lethal, and has the risk of outwitting the effect of available treatments, which has set off alarm bells around the world, which has not yet managed to recover from the pandemic.
Omicron joins the other “variants of concern” on the known SARS-CoV-2 list, including delta, identified in India in October 2020; alpha, discovered in the United Kingdom; beta in South Africa and gamma in Brazil in 2020. Those covid variants are the most easily transmitted, are more virulent, or reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and other protective measures.
In South America, lambda variants were identified in Peru (December 2020) and mu in Colombia (January 2021), classified as “variants of concern.”
According to journalist Sofía Villa, “the variants are serious threats due to their rapid spread and the fear that one of them will become the dominant virus. And in less time than we imagine, we will be dealing with another pandemic, with no way to fight during a shaky economy and increasing spending to save tenants and the unemployed without knowing how long the problem will last.”
As it is, it is time to start assessing the potential for another pandemic of equal or greater proportions.
When the UN established December 27 as International Epidemic Preparedness Day, it did so to be prepared, with the actions and resources necessary to defeat these “deadly plagues” as quickly as possible, at the lowest cost and saving the most significant number of lives.
“As we strive to control and recover from the current pandemic, we must think about the next one. Unfortunately, it is easy to imagine an equally infectious but even more lethal virus,” warned Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
As the President of the United States suggested before the United Nations General Assembly, “it is not a bad idea to prepare for a future pandemic. But the issue is not only about creating a global health corporation to monitor the risks of new pandemics.
The key issue is public health and, most importantly, individual responsibility, where we are all responsible and complicit in what happens to us for better or worse. “We will not tame the virus if the whole world does not march in lockstep in the race for vaccination,” scientists have warned from the outset.
An independent panel of experts asserts that “the Covid-19 epidemic could have been prevented. However, the world is not yet ready to face another pandemic”.