2020 has passed and now 2021 has also passed but the world is still scrambling to find a cure or right vaccine for the novel Corona virus. The emerging variants seem to be more transmissible than the original one and the recent Omicron has become a variant of huge concern to every country and the World Health Organization (WHO).
A little about Omicron
As many of you would have known, Omicron (pronounced as oh-mai-krawn) was first detected in South Africa. The variant B.1.1.529 has been named Omicron by the Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) of WHO. It looks like Omicron has several mutations than the previous variants and can spread very easily escaping the immune system’s detection even in fully vaccinated individuals. However, experts don’t think Omicron can cause severe illness that can end up people in hospitals like the Delta variant.
How does Omicron spread?
Medical experts have seen that Omicron spreads more easily than other variants but the exact details on how easily it spreads are not clear. No wonder here as many are not even 100% sure how the original/base variant of the virus gets transmitted. Omicron can easily spread to others even to fully vaccinated individuals and even when the source individual doesn’t show any symptom.
Does Omicron cause severe illness?
As the variant is relatively new, medical community doesn’t have enough data to confirm on the severity of the illness caused by Omicron variant or the number of deaths it can cause in non-vaccinated and vaccinated individuals.
Symptoms of Omicron
Muscle aches, scratchy throat, fatigue, night sweat and other flu like symptoms including runny nose, headache, sneezing and sore throat have been identified as the common symptoms of Omicron variant.
Are current vaccines effective against Omicron?
As with other variants, some companies claim that their vaccines are also effective against Omicron and can prevent individuals from severe illness, hospitalization or deaths. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated have been recorded by several countries.
What is breakthrough infection?
Breakthrough infection of a virus is defined as the ability of the virus to infect a fully vaccinated individual. That is, when a fully vaccinated person gets COVID-19, he/she is termed as a case of ‘vaccine breakthrough infection’.
How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can help individuals hospitalized with COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an acute respiratory infection caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus. If we keep the controversial theories about the origin of COVID-19 aside, the main symptoms of the Corona virus include pneumonia, high fever, cough, chest pain, inability to breathe and sometimes death. The death rate of Corona virus infection has been reported between 1% and 7% depending on the variant and country. The main cause of deaths has been reported as ‘respiratory failure’ which results in hypoxia, a condition where the body doesn’t receive enough oxygen it needs and dies.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has been proposed and being used as an alternative or even main therapy to treat COVID-19 patients with respiratory issues. HBOT is a non-invasive treatment where a patient will be subject to near 100% oxygen at a pressure higher than normal atmospheric pressure. Typically the pressure inside a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber is maintained between 1.5 to 3 times that of normal atmospheric pressure. Initial duration of HBOT sessions for COVID patients last for 90 minutes and then reduced to 60 minutes as they signs of improvement.
As the person breaths nearly 5 times more oxygen at an increased pressure, the amount of oxygen that gets dissolved in the blood cells is much higher and that gets supplied to every other cell and tissue in the body. The oxygen also dissolves in the blood plasma which acts as a strong anti-inflammatory agent and acts as a virucidal impact on COVID-19. Initial research on usage of HBOT for treating COVID-19 symptoms have shown that, HBOT can prevent admission of a patient to ICU and the need to get on to a mechanical ventilator drop drastically.
HBOT has shown to be a safe and very low risk intervention for treating COVID patients with only contraindication being untreated pneumothorax and respiratory failure that may require mechanical ventilator. HBOT has also shown to be more effective in treating pneumonia caused by COVID-19 in the early stages.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in Chennai
Not every hospital/clinic can have HBOT chambers because they need large space and 100% disinfection at all times. Chennai Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Center, a part of Gunasekaran Hospitals in Chennai hosts a specialized clinic for HBOT along with a dedicated COVID-19 treatment center. The center hosts US trained and highly experienced doctors in various disciplines. The centers are headed by Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran who is one of Chennai’s most sought after male sexual health and infertility expert. Should you have questions on COVID-19 symptoms, vaccines or HBOT sessions, don’t hesitate to call +91 97102 0404