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

Nov. 29, 2021 — Well being consultants throughout the globe are elevating issues concerning 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 following day, the World Well being Group designated Omicron a “variant of concern.”

President Joe Biden echoed this assertion at a news briefing right now, however he confused that the brand new variant is a “trigger for concern, not a trigger for panic.”

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

“The mutations within the Omicron variant are regarding, and for a number of days, we’ve been shifting as quick as potential to execute our technique to handle this variant,” Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, mentioned in a statement.

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

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

So, what makes Omicron totally different from different COVID-19 variants? And the way involved ought to we be? Well being consultants assist us break it down. And go here to learn more 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 reveals that the Omicron variant might 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 might 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.

Both method, you must keep calm, says William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive drugs and infectious illnesses at Vanderbilt College Medical Heart in Nashville.

“Even when it had been to be right here in the USA, the dominant — the 99% that’s inflicting illness in your neighborhood right now — that pressure is Delta,” he says.

“And we all know the vaccines work towards Delta.”

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

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

“Though many scientists consider — 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 you must 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 accordance with Schaffner.

Booster pictures elevate your antibody ranges, which presents you each longer safety and stronger immune response towards COVID-19 variants, he says.

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

“And partial safety is all the time higher than no safety.”

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

Virus unfold, critical sickness, and vaccine effectiveness work hand in hand. Subsequently, 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 towards it. That’s not notably regarding,” says Wen.

“Or, if one thing will not be 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 elements that might make this variant very worrisome.”