Azerbaijani health authorities have confirmed the country’s first cases of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus after analyzing the samples taken from persons coming from overseas.
According to a joint statement issued by Azerbaijan’s Healthcare Ministry, the State Agency on Mandatory Health Insurance, and the Management Union of Medical Territorial Units (TABIB), twelve persons have been infected with the fast-spreading Omicron strain.
Healthcare authorities believe vaccination is the most effective way to protect against coronavirus’s new and rapidly spreading variants. They have called on the people to get the second and booster doses of a Covid-19 vaccine to stand against the Omicron strain.
The new strain of Covid-19 was first detected in specimens collected on November 11, 2021, in Botswana and on November 14, 2021, in South Africa. After receiving the first reports about this new variant on November 24, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) named the strain B.1.1.529 Omicron and classified it as a Variant of Concern (VOC).
Researchers worldwide are currently working to reveal more aspects of Omicron, which is believed to have outpaced the Delta variant in terms of transmissibility. The new strain reportedly carries about 50 mutations not seen in combination before, including those for the spike protein that the coronavirus uses to invade the cells. Scientists are concerned that such a wide variety of mutations can help Omicron evade immunity created by a vaccine.
The COVID Symptoms Study, jointly run by Zoe health science company and King’s College London, confirmed a runny nose, headache, fatigue (either mild or severe), sneezing, and a sore throat to be the most common symptoms of Omicron. In the meantime, WHO top official in Europe Hans Kluge said 89 percent of those exposed to Omicron reported signs common with other coronavirus variants, including cough, sore throat, fever.
The Omicron variant has so far been detected in 135 countries across all continents.
According to data compiled by the Operative Headquarters under the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan, Covid-19 has infected 622,236 people in the country and claimed 8,471 lives. Currently, there are 7,454 active coronavirus patients in the country.
At the same time, more than 11.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the country since the start of the mass vaccination in January 2021. Some 5.2 million people have received the first dose as of January 11, 2022. Almost 4.7 million people have received the second dose and more than 1.6 million people have been given a booster shot.
Azerbaijan’s health authorities have so far authorized Chinese CoronaVac, German-American Pfizer BioNTech, Russian Sputnik V, and British-Swedish Vaxzevria (formerly Astra Zeneca).
The ongoing voluntary and state-sponsored vaccination in Azerbaijan is scheduled for 2021-2022. Those who received two shots of a vaccine are eligible to receive a “vaccination certificate.” At the same time, those who have contracted the virus and fought it off can obtain an “immune certificate.”