What We Know – and Don’t — About the Omicron COVID Variant

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Nov. 29, 2021 — Health consultants throughout the globe are elevating considerations in regards to the newly found COVID-19 variant, Omicron, which was first recognized in South Africa. The nation’s minister of well-being introduced the final week that the variant had already unfolded in several areas of the nation.

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The subsequent day, the World Health Organization designated Omicron a “variant of concern.”
 

President Joe Biden echoed this assertion at a news briefing at this time, however, he pressured that the brand new variant is a “cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”

 

COVID-19 vaccine makers are trying into the vaccine’s safety towards the brand new variant.

 

“The mutations in the Omicron variant are concerning, and for several days, we have been moving as fast as possible to execute our strategy to address this variant,” Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, stated in a statement.

 

Pfizer says that knowledge about its vaccine’s safety towards Omicron must be launched within the coming weeks.

 

Numerous international locations are making efforts to forestall the worldwide unfold of Omicron. The U.S. is only one of the various international locations which have positioned new journey restrictions on South Africa and its neighboring international locations.

 

So, what makes Omicron completely different from different COVID-19 variants? And how involved ought to we be? Health consultants assist us to break it down. And go here to learn more about COVID-19 variants

 

What Do We Know About the Omicron Variant So Far?

There is quite a bit that we don’t find out about Omicron, together with whether or not it causes extra extreme sickness than different variants, says Leana Wen, MD, an emergency physician and public well-being professor at George Washington University.

 

But what we do know is that it’s a variant with an unusually excessive variety of mutations, or modifications within the virus’s genetic materials.

 

Early proof additionally reveals that the Omicron variant might unfold simpler than different COVID-19 variants, she says.

 

“That’s very concerning because Delta, which is the dominant variant here in the U.S. and around the world, is already extremely contagious. So, if this is even more contagious, it could displace the Delta variant,” says Wen.

 

Is the Omicron Variant within the US?

As of proper now, no circumstances of the Omicron variant have been reported within the US.

 

Either manner, you need to keep calm, says William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious ailments at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

 

“Even if it were to be here in the United States, the dominant — the 99% that is causing disease in your community today — that strain is Delta,” he says.

 

“And we know the vaccines work against Delta.”

 

Will COVID-19 vaccines present sufficient safety towards the Omicron variant?

“We don’t know whether a large number of mutations renders the vaccines less effective against this variant,” says Wen.

 

“Although many scientists believe — especially with a booster shot — that it’s not going to render the vaccines ineffective.”

 

What are frequent signs of the Omicron variant?

We don’t have that info but, says Wen.

With a lot nonetheless unknown, what can I do proper now to guard my household and me from the Omicron variant?

If you’re nonetheless weighing whether or not you need to get a COVID-19 shot, the Omicron variant is one main cause to get vaccinated as quickly as potential, Wen says.

 

“That includes adolescents and children 5 to 11.”This can be a good time to get your COVID-19 booster, in response to Schaffner.
 

Booster photographs increase your antibody ranges, which provides you each longer safety and stronger immune response towards COVID-19 variants, he says.

 

“I can’t tell you exactly what it [a booster shot] will do against Omicron, but there is likely to be, at the very least, partial protection,” Schaffer says.

 

“And partial protection is always better than no protection.”

 

What Should I Be Most Concerned About With the Omicron Variant?

Viruses unfold, severe sickness, and vaccine effectiveness work hand in hand. Therefore, all three are regarding, Wen says.

 

“Let’s say that something is more transmissible, but it doesn’t cause more severe disease and the vaccines work very well against it. That’s not particularly concerning,” says Wen.

 

“Or, if something is not very contagious but it’s still more severe, it’s also not as concerning because it’s not going to displace Delta.”

 

“So, it really is a combination of these factors that could make this variant very worrisome.”