Today, the Gifted Four had snuck out of MysticLand. They evaded the MysticLord and crept into a park in the human world. Scorch was excited about the monkey bars. Orak slid down a twisty slide. Felix marched towards the swings. He moved to sit onto a swing but suddenly froze.

A concerned Verum asked, “What happened? Are you okay?”

With a troubled expression, Felix replied, “I’m worried about touching it. Ever since scientists in South Africa identified Omicron, the new Covid-19 variant, I have been a little wary.

I have been hearing all kinds of information about it. How it spreads easily and how it’s more dangerous – none of it seems like good news! It has 32 mutations in its spike protein area, you know? And the virus is transmitted through the spike protein.”

Viruses like the coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 don’t remain the same. They constantly change as they are transmitted from person to person. This change is called ‘mutation’. A virus with one or more mutations is called a ‘variant’.

“Your fears are valid, Felix,” said Verum. She took out a bottle of hand sanitizer and offered it to her friend, adding, “But before panicking, let’s find out more about it, shall we?”

“Yes, okay,” replied Felix, pouring a drop of the sanitizer on his palm.

“United States (US) President Joe Biden’s Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci recently discussed the Omicron variant and compared it to the Delta variant,” said Verum, “If you recollect, the Delta variant was discovered in India and caused the country’s devastating second wave. It easily travels from person to person and the infections caused by Delta are severe.”

“Yes, I recall this,” said Felix.

“Well, according to Dr. Fauci, early reports indicate that it is very likely that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than Delta. It can also escape our body’s efforts to fight it,” said Verum, “But the infections caused by Omicron aren’t that severe. Compared to Delta, fewer people infected with Omicron will have to be admitted into hospitals,”

“Are you saying that we must be careful but not panic?” said Felix.

“Exactly. Make sure you use sufficient sanitizer and wash your hands with soap once we return to the dorm room,” said Verum, patting Felix’s head.