Since the beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, there have been multiple peaks of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus virus 2) infection, mainly due to the emergence of new variants, each with a new set of mutations in the viral genome, which have led to changes in the pathogenicity, transmissibility, and morbidity. The Omicron variant is the most recent variant of concern (VOC) to emerge and was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 26 November 2021. The Omicron lineage is phylogenetically distinct from earlier variants, including the previously dominant Delta SARS-CoV-2 variant. The reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) test, rapid antigen assays, and chest computed tomography (CT) scans can help diagnose the Omicron variant. Furthermore, many agents are expected to have therapeutic benefits for those infected with the Omicron variant, including TriSb92, molnupiravir, nirmatrelvir, and their combination, corticosteroids, and interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor blockers. Despite being milder than previous variants, the Omicron variant threatens many lives, particularly among the unvaccinated, due to its higher transmissibility, pathogenicity, and infectivity. Mounting evidence has reported the most common clinical manifestations of the Omicron variant to be fever, runny nose, sore throat, severe headache, and fatigue. This review summarizes the essential features of the Omicron variant, including its history, genome, transmissibility, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, management, and the effectiveness of existing vaccines against this VOC.
- variants of concern