New Delhi: The newly detected COVID variant from South Africa this week -- omicron - might affect those severely who have not yet taken their COVID-19 shot, health experts said on Sunday.
According to experts, getting vaccinated looks like the best available option at present and it can be a game-changer in fighting against the new variant of COVID.
"So far, it appears that those who are not vaccinated are at very high risk of getting affected by the severe disease," Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, told IANS.
"Therefore, vaccination is the best available option at present which can be a game-changer," Jha added.
The experts said that we need to understand that the pandemic is not yet over and therefore we should not lower our guards and restart taking full precautions as before including social distancing.
"The new variant of COVID Omicron has several mutations from previous COVID-19 strains," said Animesh Arya, Senior Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi.
"People need to understand that COVID appropriate behaviour and vaccination are the only ways to stay safe from this variant," Arya added.
The new variant identified in South Africa has left the scientific community worried, as they fear that this new strain could fuel outbreaks in several countries and cripple health systems once again.
Meanwhile, Indian health experts mentioned that it is premature to say if we are about to face the third wave. However, the kind of carelessness that India has seen in the last few months, if the omicron enters the country, it may have a detrimental effect.
"Do not lower our guards and restart taking full precautions as before including social distancing," Arya said.
The South African health officials said the new variant has many more mutations than scientists expected, especially after a severe wave, which was driven by the Delta variant.
Many of the mutations are of concern for immune evasion and transmissibility. It carries a high number of mutations in its spike protein, which plays a key role in the virus' entry into cells in the human body.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it will take a few weeks to understand the impact of the new variant.
Several countries have also placed a complete ban on travel from South Africa in the wake of the discovery of a new variant of the omicron.