When the news broke about the new Covid variant detected in South Africa in early 2022, every country kept a watchful eye as it spread, dreading a new wave. Just when we thought we were nearing the end, the virus did what all viruses do- it evolved!
In just two months after it made its appearance in South Africa, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has spread with record speed around the world, arguably faster than any of its predecessors, until it was tracked in more than 120 countries globally.
What took scientists by surprise are the unusual mutations present in Omicron's genetic sequence compared to the Alpha and Delta variants. "It just came out of nowhere," says Darren Martin, a computational biologist at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
What made Omicron stand out from the other viruses was its genetic structure. Research showed that it was made up of two distinct sub-lineages - BA.1 and BA.2. As we saw in the coming months, it wasn't long before both became "variants of concern", according to the World Health Organization.
Further studies showed that the difference between the two sub-lines lay in their genetic sequence of amino acids and spike proteins. It is presumed that these minor differences have led to a significant change in the way the BA.2 variant spreads.
Data shows that BA.2 has a distinct growth advantage – which means it is inherently more transmissible than BA.1, which historically remains the most common Omicron sub-lineage reported. The BA.2 virus is catching up, and cases with this variant are increasing rapidly compared to the others. What is more alarming is that there have been several reported cases of reinfection with BA.2 following a previous infection with BA.1. As of February of 2022, the BA.2 omicron strain was dominant in 18 countries, including Denmark and India and has been identified in more than half the states in the US.
Over the last month, China was forced to lock down certain areas in its capital Beijing, because the BA.2 variant, nicknamed "Stealth Omicron" by many, is rapidly spreading, causing the country's biggest outbreak since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
It wasn't long before another genetic variant arrived on the scene. By April 2022, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a warning against XE, a new variant of Omicron first found in the United Kingdom. Research suggests that XE is 10% more transmissible than the BA.2 variant. Also called a "recombinant", various XE combines both sub-variants (BA.1 and BA.2) of Omicron and has at least three of its unique genetic markers. Recombinant viruses may combine qualities from each strain but is not always more dangerous.
We know from recent events that the Covid 19 virus may continue to evolve, generating newer variants as it spreads. With many countries easing Covid restrictions, how do we keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe? Here are a few tips to keep in mind!
The immune system is your body's first line of defence against harmful infections. Eating well, exercising, sleeping, reducing stress, and other lifestyle changes improve immunity.
Please consult with your doctor to see whether getting immunised with the Covid19 vaccine and its booster doses is the right option for you. Studies show that vaccines help reduce the infection symptoms, even if they may not completely prevent the disease.
The interventions that helped us survive the early days of the pandemic could also help us with this outbreak. Wearing a mask in populated areas and social distancing is effective against virus outbreaks.
At Peach Medical Labs, we have a full range of medical supplies that can help you keep your home, family, workplace, and communities safe!
Personal Protective Equipment like gowns, face shields and eye goggles are in high demand. And we have a stable supply of masks for retail and wholesale ordering. Our range of examination gloves offers various sizes, with Nitrile powder-free options. Sanitisers and disinfectants have become more prominent since the COVID 19 pandemic, and we also supply disinfectant alcohol wipes that make cleaning up easy on the go!
One of the best tools in our arsenal to fight against Covid is dependable and good quality testing. As we step into the new normal, testing before travelling, attending large gatherings, going back to full-time work at offices or attending school is made easy and convenient because of rapid antigen test kits.
Studies show that the rapid covid test accuracy rate is high when compared to laboratory tests, especially in the case of the new Omicron variant. Research done by the National Institutes of Health and the UMass Chan Medical School revealed that 82% of the people in the study who were infected with the Delta variant and 92% of those infected with Omicron tested positive on an at-home antigen test within 48 hours of their first positive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) laboratory-based test. This demonstrates that rapid tests are among the most accurate covid tests available for use at home, while traveling and at the workplace.
Peach Medical Labs is proud to carry the best covid home test available in the market, the Abbott BinaxNOW at-home test. These easy-to-use kits are known for their effectiveness in the immediate investigation of Covid 19. With simple instructions for the BinaxNOW kits, the BinaxNOW covid test accuracy is one of the most consistent ones, making it one of the few at-home kits accepted by several airlines and cruise lines, which is why it's such a great choice for those that wish to use the BinaxNOW covid test for travel.
With the ever-evolving variants, it pays to be cautious! You can screen family members before you travel or open your homes or personal spaces by buying these rapid antigen test kits. By using the most accurate at-home covid tests on the market, you can quarantine and get treated immediately if needed because the tests give their results in minutes.
If you're wondering where to buy an at-home covid test kit, don't worry, we got you covered! Check out our shop or get in touch with us at Peach Medical Labs to know more about our medical supply products and the range of services we offer.
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