New Delhi | Jagran Lifestyle Desk: The notion of Omicron variant of COVID-19 being a natural vaccine is doing rounds on the internet lately. Natural vaccine or natural immunity from COVID-19 means when your body triggers an immune response against reinfection from a virus that had infected you earlier. This is possible due to antibodies that stick around in your system for at least 450 days after the infection. It is being claimed that Omicron also acts as a natural vaccine. How much of it is true, lets find out!

Who made the claim?

Recently, a Maharashtra health official claimed that Omicron will act as a natural vaccine and may help in Covid-19's progression towards the endemic stage.

What do experts have to say on this?

Noted virologist Shahid Jameel said the notion that Omicron is a natural vaccine is a dangerous idea spread by irresponsible people. "It breeds complacency and is rooted more in pandemic fatigue and the inability to do more, than in evidence available at this time," he told PTI.

Jameel also said that those who advocate this don't take into account "long Covid" about which very little is understood. "Especially in India, where malnutrition, air pollution and diabetes are rampant, to willingly let people be exposed to a virus about which you understand little is not good science and public health," he said.

Can Omicron act as a natural vaccine?

Giridhara R Babu, professor and the Head of Lifecourse Epidemiology at the Public Health Foundation of India, said however mild Omicron is, it is not a vaccine. "There are deaths and hospitalisations due to this variant," he added.

Could Omicron really pause the pandemic?

Yash Javeri, Head, Critical Care, Regency Health, Lucknow, said that due to Omicron's higher infectivity coupled with less severity, it may help pause the pandemic. "As a result, the whole community becomes protected, not just those who are immune. An infection with the Omicron variant not just induces an immune response against this variant but also offers heightened protection against the Delta variant, a South African study has found. Due to its higher infectivity coupled with less severity, Omicron may raise the herd immunity still higher and help pause the pandemic," he said.

Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. ICMR director general Balram Bhargava last week said that hybrid immunity, which is developed as a result of vaccination and natural infection, mounts a stronger response against Covid-19 and its variants. 

(With inputs from PTI)

Posted By: Sugandha Jha