Important to be alarmed, no need to panic: Expert on COVID 'Omicron' variant

Nov 28, 2021

By Shalini Bhardwaj
Nadia (West Bengal) [India], November 28 : Following the emergence of the new coronavirus Variant of Concern 'Omicron', an expert of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics said it is important to be alarmed and informed about the variant but there is no need to panic.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Saumitra Das, Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, said, "It is normal for an RNA virus to keep on mutating as we have been seeing for the last one and a half years. So the mutation is not a surprise."
"This particular variant reported multiple mutations. It is almost like 30 mutations in one particular viral protein, which is a very unusual situation. It could be more transmissible or might have different kinds of functional activity, which we do not know at this stage. That is how I think there is so much concern. I will say it is not a panic, but it is a concern that we need to watch out for," he said.
On the effectiveness of RTPCR tests, Dr Saumitra said RT PCR kits that are used in the country actually target multiple genes.
"Now, it is very unlikely that the mutations will lead to a complete washout of all the primers and cannot be detected by any one of those primers for those particular genes. So that is a very unusual and rare situation," he explained.
"There is no point having a panic, but it is important to be alarmed and informed about this variant. So special precautions needed to be taken. More stringent screening of all the foreign travellers not just for this particular variant but for all other variants reported in different countries," stated Dr Saumitra.
Emphasizing on vaccination, Dr Saumitra said people should complete their second COVID vaccine dose in time.
"There should not be any reluctance of taking the vaccine. It is definitely going to protect you. If it cannot prevent the infection, it at least can protect you from the severity of the disease. So, it will somehow minimize the severity of the disease. In that sense, all the vaccines will be actually effective against variants in India" he said.