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The Omicron variant is significantly less severe than other strains of Covid-19

The Omicron variant is significantly less severe than other strains of Covid-19, according to a report from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the agency, the risk of hospitalisation from Omicron was half compared to the risk from the Delta variant, Daily Mail reported.

Among people hospitalised, they were 75 per cent less likely to require intensive care, and even the rate of mortality was 91 per cent lower than that of Delta.

While it has long been known by health officials and experts alike that the Omicron variant is not as deadly as its predecessor, it has led to some deaths in the UK, Australia, the US, and India.

Currently, the US is averaging 750,515 new cases every day, the second highest daily total recorded yet in the pandemic -- only trailing Tuesday's total - with 1,716 deaths being attributed to the virus each day.

While the variant has caused cases to triple to record numbers in recent weeks, deaths have not moved at a similar rate.

And the recent 10 per cent uptick in Covid deaths in the US is actually being caused by the Delta variant, not the highly prevalent Omicron strain, CDC chief Rochelle Walensky was quoted as saying at a news conference on Wednesday.

The CDC data also estimates that 98 per cent of active Covid cases in the US are of the Omicron variant.

The Delta variant, which dominated the latter half of 2021, is now relegated to only around two percent of cases, the report said.

If the variant spreads rapidly, and is unlikely to cause death, it could quickly burn through the population and begin to recede.

Experts and health officials are hopeful that the recent surge caused by the variant is showing signs of burning out, as it could run out of people to infect in the coming weeks, the report said.

(IANS/JB)

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US researchers have developed a chatbot that may help reduce the likelihood a person develops an eating disorder.

US researchers have developed a chatbot that may help reduce the likelihood a person develops an eating disorder.

The bot helped women at a high risk for an eating disorder to reduce their concern over body weight and shape - a factor that contributes to their risk, the Verge reported.

According to Ellen Fitzsimmons-Craft, Assistant Professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, digital prevention programmes could be more effective when guided by a human moderator.

The team developed a chatbot that offered "some aspects of moderation in an automated format", Fitzsimmons-Craft was quoted as saying.

Participants in the study could use the chatbot through texts or through Facebook Messenger.

The study recruited female participants through online ads, fliers, and the national eating disorder association online eating disorder screening test.

Signs of having eating disorders. The chatbot offered eight conversations about topics around body image and healthy eating.Photo by Wikimedia Commons

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The reassuring videos of the first recovered 34-year-old person from Omicron variant in which he had shared his experience of journey of recovery at a designated hospital in Bengaluru

The reassuring videos of the first recovered 34-year-old person from Omicron variant in which he had shared his experience of journey of recovery at a designated hospital in Bengaluru have gone viral on social media. "I was infected with Delta Virus before and now I can share the experience of being affected with the Omicron variant," he says.

"I was infected with coronavirus during the second wave. I had two doses of Covid vaccination. In spite of this, I was tested positive for the Omicron variant. However, I suffered much more when I was affected with Delta virus than the Omicron variant," he explains in the video.

The person was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday from a designated hospital in Bengaluru. "During the second wave of Covid, I tested positive for coronavirus in April. I was isolated at home and got cured. After a foreign tour, I got infected with the Omicron variant. The symptoms of throat itching, cough and tiredness were more severe the first time. This time there was no necessity for additional treatment this time," he said.

Sharing details of treatment, he said, "There is no separate treatment as such for the Omicron variant. Vitamin-C tablets and antibiotics were given. Since there was no tiredness and symptoms were too mild, I worked from the hospital ward for a week."

"I went to South Africa in the last week of November. I tested negative in RT-PCR tests at the KempeGowda International Airport (KIAL) in Bengaluru. But, on the third day of my isolation itching in my throat and cough symptoms developed. I got the RT-PCR test done again at a private lab, the results confirmed Covid-19 virus. Later, the samples were sent for genome sequencing by the civic agency, in which an Omicron variant was found," he says.

He says that since the information was available with him, he did not panic. As per protocol, he got admitted to the designated hospital. Later, he tested negative twice in RT-PCR tests. He was discharged after confirming that he is healthy through blood tests and x-ray.

"I isolated myself after arrival from South Africa and my family members didn't catch the infection. Those who come from abroad should maintain distance and follow quarantine guidelines. If symptoms crop up, without wasting time and negligence, they should get tested and inform health authorities. If this is done, we can prevent the infection from spreading to neighbors and people around," he says in the video.

The 34-year-old man was the third person to get infected with the Omicron variant in the state. The doctor who had tested positive for Omicron is yet to be discharged. Another patient, who tested positive for Omicron variant, a South African national, had fled the country by producing a fake RT-PCR report and police have arrested four persons in this connection. (IANS/JB)

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The new hyper-mutated Omicron variant of Covid-19 will not affect India as badly as Delta did early this year, said Dr. Shahid Jameel

By Rachel V Thomas

The new hyper-mutated Omicron variant of Covid-19 will not affect India as badly as Delta did early this year, yet the country cannot be complacent but must be careful and alert, as per top virologist Dr Shahid Jameel. The Omicron variant, thought to be more virulent than its predecessor Delta, was first identified in South Africa in November and has since spread to more than 60 countries around the world.

"India in December 2021 is very different from India in March 2021," Dr Jameel, a visiting scientist at Ashoka University, told IANS. "Both in terms of numbers of, you know, the vaccination percentage as well as exposure to the virus. India has had a very, very bad second wave. And because of that, the blessing in disguise is that many of us got exposed to the virus. I think even if we get high numbers of infections, the rate of severe disease rate of hospitalisation is going to be lower than what we saw in Delta," added Jameel, who is also Fellow at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford.

Besides South Africa, the Omicron strain has surged Covid cases in many countries including France, Russia, the US, and Israel. In the UK, it is expected to replace Delta as the dominant variant and the UK Health Security Agency estimates that the number of daily infections could touch 200,000. Jameel said the national sero surveys has shown that a majority of Indians have already been exposed to the virus. So while "India, so far, has about 40-odd reported cases of Omicron and the rise in India has not been as fast as the rise in the UK".

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