Considered more contagious, the Ômicron variant (B.1.1.529) of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is responsible for a new wave of covid-19 worldwide, including Brazil. In this scenario, some people have wondered if it would be the case to contract the infection at once and get rid of protective measures, such as wearing masks. But this is by no means a good idea.
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Intentionally contracting the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is "in fashion", Paul Offit, director of the Center for Vaccine Education at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN. However, the specialist warns of the risks of contracting covid-19.
"You'd be crazy if you tried to get infected with it. It's like playing with dynamite," says Robert Murphy of Northwestern University. This goes even for people who are immunized against covid-19 or who have had previous infections.
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1. Covid is worse than a cold
Currently, studies suggest that the Ômicron variant is less likely to cause severe forms of covid-19 , especially in people who are fully immunized — two doses or a single dose immunizer — and who received the booster dose.
But this does not mean, with complete certainty, that infected people will not have complications from covid-19. Most likely, they may have fever, body aches, sore throat, nasal congestion, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. Immunizations are developed to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from the disease.
"People are talking about Omicron like it's a bad cold. It's not a 'bad' cold," recalls Murphy. "It's a life-threatening disease," he adds. In this sense, no one should actively seek to be infected by the variant.
2. Post-covid cases
After being "cured" from covid-19 and no longer having a detectable viral load, some patients may still face post-covid cases, that is, sequelae of coronavirus infection . In these people, some symptoms may persist persistently, such as fatigue, headaches, mental fog, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping (insomnia and anxiety).
At the moment, research is still seeking to identify the reasons that lead some patients to face sequelae of covid-19. Recently, a study from Stellenbosch University in South Africa suggested that small clots and the action of hyperactivated platelets could partly explain the condition . But the study is not conclusive.
“We are still trying to understand Covid-19,” says Offit. "As we don't understand, I wouldn't be so quick to want to get an infection," says the expert. "Never risk getting an infection from a natural virus", he defends.
3. Collapse of the Health System
In recent weeks, cases of covid-19 infection have risen again in Brazil, according to a survey by the National Council of Health Secretaries (Conass). The situation is explained by the advancement of the Ômicron variant in the country. In parallel, several states face flu outbreaks, caused by the strain H3N2 Darwin.
In the Brazilian scenario, both diseases are already responsible for congesting the health system. Now, if individuals begin to purposely infect themselves or deny the reality of covid — "escape" from mandatory social isolation and transmit the infection to others — hospitals could collapse.
It is worth remembering that, in January 2021, health systems collapsed in some Brazilian capitals, such as Manaus. In the region of the state of Amazonas, there was a lack of oxygen for the treatment of patients who were hospitalized and deaths were reported as a result of the lack of supply .
Another reminder: it is not possible to know who will develop the severe form of covid and need hospitalization or an ICU. With this disease, it is only possible to know who is at least at risk.
4. Watch out for children
Today, children represent the last group of Brazilians not to receive the vaccination against covid-19. This means that they may be the most affected by the wave of Omicron, even though most do not develop complications from the disease. The more cases are recorded in the adult and pediatric population, the greater the risk of minors being exposed to the virus.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Brazil has added 1,449 deaths of children up to 11 years old as a result of covid-19. In addition, more than 2,400 cases of Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (SIM-P) associated with covid-19 have been diagnosed, according to a survey carried out on SIVEP-Gripe data.
According to the Ministry of Health, the expectation is that the first batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 will arrive on Thursday (13). After analyzing the batches, childhood vaccination should be started on Friday (14) . But the entire immunization process should still take a few months until protection with two doses.
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