By Sushil Kutty
The “highly transmissible” Omicron doesn’t spare even children under age 5, said a top medical officer of South Africa. Omicron has been ripping across the African country like it was in a hurry to cross the Atlantic. The Delta variants hadn’t shown any interest in children. The so-called Wuhan strain was least interested as it raged during the time allotted to it. Now, it is the turn of the Omicron and it doesn’t have tunnel vision.
According to the South African health official, large numbers of children under age 5 are in hospitals. This should make governments worldwide and the medical fraternity everywhere sit up and take notice. Omicron, the coronavirus with the most mutations, is a super-spreader of superstardom. It could be round the planet before the sun is round it 30 times.
Unless the right steps are taken ASAP.
Omicron is already in more than a dozen countries. Reports say two cases of Omicron were found in Bengaluru. There could be more cases walking the country. The authorities are still to make a sweep of the flight or flights of passengers who flew in on flights from South Africa. The two Omicron infected were in South Africa before they boarded their respective flights to India.
But let nobody deceive nobody. Omicron is a different critter altogether. It leaves Delta-II way behind in the super-spreader altruism category. It infects everybody, irrespective of age, race or creed. None of the government authorities can unload a Tabliqi Jamaat excuse on the country. Omicron is beyond religion as the Delta variants, too, were.
What should be alarming, however, is Omicron’s fondness for children. South African scientists say Omicron is spreading quicker than all the previous coronavirus variants. Government adviser Waasila Jassat held a virtual presser the other day and said the worst-affected region was the Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg. The week-on-week increase in Omicron cases and admissions is the highest in this province.
“We’ve seen quite a sharp increase in hospital admissions across all age groups but particularly in the under 5s,” Jassat disclosed. Only the over 60 have more hospital admissions. “The trend is different to what we’ve seen before. Now, at the start of this fourth wave, we have seen quite a sharp increase across all age groups, but particularly in the under 5s.”
In one city alone, the city of Tshwane Metro, more than 100 children under the age of 5 with Covid were admitted to hospitals in the first two weeks, from Nov 14 to Nov 27. In the first two weeks of the previous wave, in May of 2021, fewer than 20 children were admitted to hospitals. Jassat spoke of an “immunity gap” behind the “extraordinary increase” in children’s hospital admissions.
She was pointing to no vaccinations of children. With adults getting vaccinated, the virus is finding succour in children. The children are the ones “getting sick and need to be admitted.” Doctors at the Tshwane hospital told Jassat that “all” of the children, ages 12-18, who were admitted were not vaccinated.” None of the parents of children younger than 12, who were not eligible for vaccination, were vaccinated!
There you have it! The value of vaccination in the adult population. Children will be protected if the adults are vaccinated. Surprisingly, because of disinformation, vaccine hesitancy is on the rise everywhere, including in India, where a good percentage of people who had taken the first dose haven’t reported for the second dose.
In Aurangabad, citizens of one religious denomination protested in the streets after the district administration, on the orders of the state government, gave a vaccine ultimatum and slapped penalties on the unvaccinated, including no petrol/diesel at petrol bunks for those who cannot produce “vaccinated” cards. The protestors demanded the immediate removal of the deputy collector and an FIR lodged against him.
The fact is, the coronavirus is breeding weird and bizarre behaviour in human beings. A possible third wave of the Omicron hitting India and virus rumours are going viral on social media. The upcoming 5-states elections are making fake news go round and round the world at a brisker pace. In the United States, home of the free and the brave, a bunch of “naturalists” have taken the Omicron “in the right spirit.”
“Omicron could be the cure for Covid-19 we are looking for,” they said in a press note. “Omicron is spreading quickly but producing no serious symptoms in those who are said to be infected with it. It appears that Omicron may have reached the seasonal flu status in terms of its relatively mild impact on human health. That means Omicron could be the cure for Covid. It could end this pandemic. No need for vaccines, masks, social distancing and lockdowns.”
These are the people who are the no-vaxxers. And the no-maskers. They look askance at vaccines and they have been running a no-vaccine campaign against POTUS Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. Leave it to them and they will let Omicron run crazy in schools and kindergartens because for them Omicron is “cure for Covid.”
This in the country where the media is daily educating the ignorant and the misfit. The Washington Post reported that the risk of Omicron causing reinfection in adults is three times more. “Statistical analysis of some 2.8 million positive coronavirus samples in South Africa, 35,670 of which were suspected to be reinfections, led researchers to conclude that the Omicron mutation has a ‘substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection,’” the newspaper said. India should be wary, we have the second most number of Covid deaths in the world and our response to the second wave was terrible to say the least. Our children are hugely vulnerable. (IPA Service)