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Omicron Subvariant BA.2 Is Rising. What Do We Know About It?

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Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and just when new cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. are on the decline, an Omicron subvariant called BA.2 is gaining significant traction in some parts of the world.

Dr. Dorit Nitzan, a World Health Organization regional director, told the Jerusalem Post on Monday that Omicron BA.2 is likely to become dominant worldwide due to its high transmissibility. “The expected trajectory is that it will become the new dominant variant, as once it crosses past a certain threshold it becomes dominant — like we’re seeing in Denmark and the U.K.,” Nitzan said.

While the original Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa in late November, is still responsible for the majority of new cases in most countries, BA.2 has rapidly spread in places such as South Africa, India, England and Denmark, where it is now dominant.

In the U.S., Omicron BA.2 is circulating at a low level, accounting for less than 4 percent of new coronavirus cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But some experts believe it is just a matter of time until the subvariant takes over and becomes dominant.

“Anytime a variant is more transmissible, even if it’s a little more transmissible, it seems to have taken on that dominance,” Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told Yahoo News. “So Delta was much more transmissible than Alpha. It took over. Then Omicron was four times more transmissible than Delta. It took over. If the BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1, it’ll take over,” she said.

According to public health experts in both Denmark and the U.K., the variant appears to be between 30 and 34 percent more infectious than the currently dominant BA.1 form. A recent Danish study also found that BA.2 was relatively better than BA.1 at infecting vaccinated people, which indicates the subvariant has greater “immune-evasive properties.”

But, underscoring the value of vaccines, the researchers found that vaccinated people were still less likely to get infected and transmit either the BA.1 or BA.2 subvariant compared with unvaccinated people.

The good news is that there are no indications so far that BA.2 causes more severe disease. In addition, Gandhi says it’s a good sign that the subvariant hasn’t accelerated the pandemic in Denmark and the U.K. “Cases still were able to go down there, despite BA.2 coming into their regions,” Gandhi told Yahoo News.

Data on Omicron BA.2 is still limited, and it is uncertain what impact the strain will have on the future of the pandemic. Gandhi says booster shots are the best way to protect yourself and your community from both Omicron subvariants.

Her point is supported by recent U.K. data that showed booster protection against symptomatic COVID-19 infection was 70 percent for BA.2 and 63 percent for BA.1.

“What we need to get through this time is immunity. … If we got a booster, it would help raise our antibodies and stave off even mild infections. So getting a booster is an important strategy,” Gandhi said.

 

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COVID-19 Cases May Rise During Holiday Season, NCDC Warns

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has warned that COVID-19 infections may rise during the holiday season.

Ifedayo Adetifa, NCDC director general, in an interview with Punch, said the expected rise may occur due to an increase in travel.

He added that the agency, however, expects that there would be a decrease in hospitalisation.

“We are prepared to see that there may be a bump in cases just because of the increase in travel and the number of people returning. What we may not expect to see is an increasing number of people who are sick,” he said.

Adetifa said although Omicron remains the dominant COVID strain in Nigeria, vaccination and previous COVID-19 infections have provided some degrees of immunity.

“Omicron took over as the dominant variant in November and December last year, and it has refused to go anywhere. Other minor variants have emerged, but Omicron remains the most dominant,” he said.

“The population has quite a bit of immunity due to vaccination, previous COVID-19 infection, or repeated COVID-19 infection. So COVID-19 is not new. The Omicron is not new like it was in November.

“If you look at our numbers, we haven’t lost people for a while. Even if every single death is a great disaster for people’s families or friends, it’s not anything like the Delta variant when we had a big problem.”

According to the NCDC, Nigeria has so far recorded 266,283 COVID cases and 3,155 deaths.

 

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Nigeria has one psychiatric doctor to a million citizens – APN President, Obindo cries out

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The President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, Prof. Taiwo Obindo says the country currently has a ratio of one qualified psychiatric doctor to about a million Nigerians.

He made the worrisome disclosure in Enugu on Thursday at the 53rd Annual General and Scientific Meeting of all psychiatric doctors in Nigeria holding at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu.

The four-day meeting, which started on Nov. 23, is themed: “Insecurity and Forced Displacement: Mental Health and Psychological Implication”.

Obindo said, “This development has made accessibility and deliverability of psychiatric care relatively difficult in the country.”

He revealed that up to two-third of yearly well-trained and certified psychiatric doctors leave the country annually, adding that in psychiatric hospitals, qualified psychiatric doctors leave the country in droves, thus creating challenges for the country.

“The standard is that one psychiatric doctor should take care of 10,000 patients; but today, we have one psychiatric doctor to over one million Nigerians.

“As we speak now, we are having less than 250 certified psychiatric doctors throughout the whole country and more are leaving by the day,” he lamented.

He called for the passage of the National Mental Health Bill (amended) to give proper process and administration of mental health treatment and other issues relating to mental health, which included adequate funding and enumeration of its professionals.

“Mental healthcare should be incorporated into the primary healthcare system to cater for the primary and secondary institutions treating mental health disorders in localities.

“Presently, the little budget meant for mental health treatment goes to the tertiary institutions only.

“Mental health should be fully taken care of at the Primary Healthcare Centres to save Nigerians transport, feeding and accommodation cost, as well as stress of conveying a mentally ill relative to urban centres where psychiatric hospitals are found,” he said.

On the theme, Obindo, who is with the Jos University Teaching Hospital, noted that those that were entangled within the current insecurity and forced displacement had continued to face psychological and psychiatric trauma and disorders.

He noted that government and other organisations providing succour should not only provide food and shelter items but also psychological and psychiatric care.

According to him, we should ensure they recover from the shock of insecurity scenes they witness or their personal losses.

“It is important that the government and other support groups give them special attention to meet their current challenging emotional, psychological and psychiatric needs and not to fall into deeper depression or societal withdrawal,” he said.

In a remark, Prof. Monday Igwe, the Medical Director of Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, said that insecurity was becoming a major cause of mental trauma and stress for some Nigerians.

Igwe, who is also the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the meeting, said that traumatic condition caused by insecurity and forced displacement can further lead to psychological imbalance, depression and suicide.

“It is time we put the psychological and psychiatric needs of these people into serious consideration and ensure that they pass through their ordeal with renewed hope that tomorrow will be better,” he said.

The event was also attended by the Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Emmanuel Obi and several other stakeholders in the health sector.

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Doctor Recounts How Metals On Lady’s Semi-Permanent Wig Frustrated Doctors Who Were To Carry Out Major Scan On Her

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A US-based medical doctor has recounted how she came to the rescue after her colleagues found it difficult to carry out an MRI on a lady who came into their hospital with stroke-like symptoms.

In a Twitter thread, the doctor @B_DrMadden said her colleagues couldn’t carry out the major scan on the said lady because of the metals on the glued semi-permanent wig she had on. Dr Madden said with her little knowledge of applying alcohol on the metals and the wig, she was able to rescue the situation and ensure that the lady carries out the needed scan.

 

Read her tweets below

Doctor recounts how the metals on a ladyDoctor recounts how the metals on a ladyDoctor recounts how the metals on a ladyDoctor recounts how the metals on a ladyDoctor recounts how the metals on a lady

 

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