RJ confirms first imported case of omicron variant of coronavirus

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RJ confirms first imported case of omicron variant of coronavirus

The city of Rio de Janeiro confirmed its first imported case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. The patient is a 27-year-old Brazilian who lives in Chicago, in the United States, and sought care in the municipal network as soon as she arrived in Brazil, on the last 13th.

She took both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in March this year, but did not receive a booster. According to the Municipal Health Department, she is with mild symptoms, in home isolation and under monitoring by the folder. People she had contact with tested negative.

In São Paulo, the transmission of the new strain is already treated as a community, as stated by Mayor Ricardo Nunes (MDB) last week. So far there are 13 confirmed cases in São Paulo, three of them disclosed on Friday (17) of people who have not traveled.

Rapid tests started to be offered last week in Emergency Care Units (UPAs), Outpatient Medical Assistance (AMAs), Emergency Care (PAs) and emergency rooms to identify or rule out cases of Covid-19.

They started to be made at a time when the city is facing an outbreak of the influenza A H3N2 virus, the same one associated with the epidemic in Rio. São Paulo, as well as the great demand for vaccines in private clinics.

On the last 14th, the WHO (World Health Organization) warned that the transmission speed of the omicron variant follows an unprecedented pace. Tedros Adhanom, director of the organisation, stated that the new strain has already been found in 77 countries.

The omicron has sparked the alert of the international community because of its large number of mutations. The most worrying ones are those present in protein S, which are used by the virus to enter human cells.

Current vaccines target this protein and, therefore, studies are being carried out to understand whether they could be less efficient against the strain.

BioNTech and Pfizer said that two doses of their product resulted in significantly lower protection against it, but that a third dose increased neutralizing antibodies in a laboratory test.

Another survey by the British Health Safety Agency also indicated that two doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca have a much lower protection against omicron compared to delta, but with the booster dose the protection against symptomatic infections was around 70% in both.

Studies targeting a third dose against the strain are also being carried out by other pharmaceutical companies. A specific dose of Moderna for the strain, for example, could be ready in March 2022. Sinovac, the Chinese company that produces Coronavac, plans an updated vaccine in up to three months.

Even with the uncertainties, the WHO has already emphasized that the available immunization agents are still extremely important to stop the transmission of the virus and prevent deaths. He also reinforced the need to wear a mask, avoid agglomerations, care for well-ventilated environments and carry out tests and genetic sequencing.

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