Local December 6, 2021 | 2:40 pm

Expert sees imminent arrival of Omicron variant in the country

No need for panic: while Omicron may be more transmissible, it also appears to be milder, potentially offering a safe way to herd immunity and a waning of the pandemic

Santo Domingo, DR

The arrival of the omicron variant to Dominican territory is imminent, so together with the already existing delta variant, amid the elimination of restrictions, they can create challenging situations and trigger the epidemiological indicators of the country, as happened last year after the Christmas holidays.

This was suggested yesterday by the Dominican scientist residing in Doha, Qatar, Rubén Peralta, who calls on the Dominican Republic to keep preventive measures well active, do much more diagnostic tests and case tracking, and the timely sequencing of variants.

He says that the relaxation of a country’s restriction measures at Christmas and New Year holidays is a risky strategy that is repeated.

Peralta understands that the Dominican Republic must take strategic measures based on the identification of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and sequencing of the prevailing variant of the moment, which is the delta, and the imminent arrival of the new omicron variant, of which there are indications of having a high infectivity rate but very mild symptoms.

According to international reports, the renowned doctor highlights that in the Dominican Republic, approximately 51% of the population has received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, indicating that a large part of the population has not benefited from the protection acquired vaccination against the virus.

High risk
Peralta contends that to continue the relaxation of epidemiological measures against the pandemic as announced by the health authorities, added to the increase in social activities, flows of tourists and relatives who reside abroad visiting their relatives and friends for the Christmas season, the country would take the unnecessary risk that the epidemiological indicators of the pandemic would skyrocket, as occurred last Christmas and year-end holidays, again impacting public health, tourism, and the national economy.

“In the country, we continue to go through a relatively slow period in the vaccination program, which puts a large percentage of the population at risk from the aggressiveness and contagion of the new circulating variants, including the delta, which is currently the predominant,” said.

More creative campaign
The Dominican academic and surgeon understands that the country must redesign a more creative and community vaccination campaign to be better prepared for the imminent arrival of the new omicron variant, which to date with the bit of evidence that has been published, is more contagious than the Delta variant. Still, the clinical manifestations of the majority of reported cases have been mild.

Dr. Peralta points out that there is still a large percentage of the vulnerable population that has not received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and “we are far from the 75% to 85% required to obtain herd immunity concerning the variant predominant of the moment: the delta variant,” points out the medical scholar, citing Our World in Data as a source.”

Recommends mitigation methods
Among its recommendations to the country are that in addition to increasing and completing the two-dose vaccination schedule for the population and obtaining over 80% vaccination coverage, the booster or third dose program should be continued in the population over 16 years of age.

In daily activities, it also suggests using mitigation methods, such as masks, avoiding crowds, and poorly ventilated spaces.

As an example of the measures that should be established and strengthened, he mentioned the use of face masks in indoor places: public and private, offices and outdoor places due to the low efficacy of vaccinations to prevent transmission or reception of infection. In addition, the proposed requirement of vaccination cards is puzzling since the unvaccinated present no danger to the vaccinated.

Peralta also suggests reducing crowds in stadiums, concerts, and other massive activities; increasing identification activities with the significant increase in tests and traces of positive cases; continuing quarantine and mandatory isolation of suspected or positive cases; and free treatment and internment of those infected that merit clinical management.

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John Conor
December 6, 2021 7:55 pm

Ayy mi madreeee… ?