What We Know – and Don’t — In regards to the Omicron COVID Variant

Nov. 29, 2021 — Well being specialists throughout the globe are elevating issues 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 final week that the variant had already unfold in several areas of the nation.

The subsequent day, the World Well being Group designated Omicron a “variant of concern.”

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

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

“The mutations within the Omicron variant are regarding, and for a number of days, we have now been transferring as quick as potential to execute our technique to deal with this variant,” Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, mentioned in a assertion.

Pfizer says that information about its vaccine’s safety in opposition to Omicron ought to be launched within the coming weeks.

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

So, what makes Omicron totally different from different COVID-19 variants? And the way involved ought to we be? Well being specialists assist us break it down. And go right here to study extra about COVID-19 variants

What Do We Know In regards to the Omicron Variant So Far?

There’s a lot 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 College.

However 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 exhibits that the Omicron variant could unfold simpler than different COVID-19 variants, she says.

“That’s very regarding as a result of Delta, which is the dominant variant right here within the U.S. and around the globe, is already extraordinarily contagious. So, if that is much more contagious, it may displace the Delta variant,” says Wen.

Is the Omicron Variant within the US?

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

Both means, it is best to keep calm, says William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive drugs and infectious illnesses at Vanderbilt College Medical Heart in Nashville.

“Even when it have been to be right here in america, the dominant — the 99% that’s inflicting illness in your neighborhood at this time — that pressure is Delta,” he says.

“And we all know the vaccines work in opposition to Delta.”

Will COVID-19 vaccines present sufficient safety in opposition to the Omicron variant?

“We don’t know whether or not the massive variety of mutations renders the vaccines much less efficient in opposition to this variant,” says Wen.

“Though many scientists imagine — particularly with a booster shot — that it’s not going to render the vaccines ineffective.”

What are widespread 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 I from the Omicron variant?

In case you are nonetheless weighing whether or not it is best to get a COVID-19 shot, the Omicron variant is one main cause to get vaccinated as quickly as potential, Wen says.

“That features adolescents and kids 5 to 11.”

That is additionally a good time to get your COVID-19 booster, in keeping with Schaffner.

Booster pictures elevate your antibody ranges, which affords you each longer safety and stronger immune response in opposition to COVID-19 variants, he says.

“I can’t inform you precisely what it [a booster shot] will do in opposition to Omicron, however there’s more likely to be, on the very least, partial safety,” Schaffer says.

“And partial safety is at all times higher than no safety.”

What Ought to I Be Most Involved About With the Omicron Variant?

Virus unfold, severe sickness, and vaccine effectiveness work hand in hand. Due to this fact, all three are regarding, Wen says.

“Let’s say that one thing is extra transmissible, however it doesn’t trigger extra extreme illness and the vaccines work very nicely in opposition to it. That’s not notably regarding,” says Wen.

“Or, if one thing is just not very contagious however it’s nonetheless extra extreme, it’s additionally not as regarding as a result of it’s not going to displace Delta.”

“So, it truly is a mix of those components that would make this variant very worrisome.”

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