With its inception in November last year, the omicron variant turned the world upside down for a second time, becoming one of Covid-19’s most feared mutations. 

Beginning in Africa, omicron soon became a  “variant of concern”, plaguing several parts of the world. 

India reported its omicron patient zero in late November, and its 140 crore population prepared for impact while the majority was still picking up the pieces from the previous coronavirus variant, delta. 

Omicron’s outbreak coincided with a surge in vaccination, with thousands of Indians seeking double doses of inoculation to curb the contagion. Herd immunity was also established, shielding the population against new mutations. Although highly transmissible, omicron displayed mild symptoms in most patients.

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What lies ahead

“With omicron, we have noticed less severity compared to delta. A milder variant meant better immunity. However, whether that immunity is going to be sufficient nobody knows,” Dr. Alok Agarwal of Apollo Hospital told Indiatoday.in. 

He added, “Breakthrough cases were reported across the country. People who were double vaccinated were infected by omicron, hinting at its capability to escape antibodies.”

As the world attempts to return to its pre-Covid state, chances of a future with no new mutations remain bleak. 

Leonardo Martinez, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University, said in January that “the faster omicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants”.

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On Monday, India recorded 16,051 new Covid-19 cases and 206 deaths in the last 24 hours. For the past 15 days, India’s Covid-19 cases have remained below 1 lakh. Schools, universities, and offices across the country have begun to function offline. 

Despite omicron’s retreat, experts continue to consider masks, sanitizing, and vaccination as the best defences against the viral catastrophe.