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

Nov. 29, 2021 — Well being consultants throughout the globe are elevating considerations 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 information briefing right this moment, 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 now have been transferring as quick as doable to execute our technique to deal with this variant,” Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, stated in a assertion.

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

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

So, what makes Omicron completely different from different COVID-19 variants? And the way involved ought to we be? Well being consultants 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 learn 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 adjustments within the virus’s genetic materials.

Early proof additionally exhibits 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 all over the world, 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 circumstances of the Omicron variant have been reported within the US.

Both manner, 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 america, the dominant — the 99% that’s inflicting illness in your neighborhood right this moment — 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 frequent signs of the Omicron variant?

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

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

If you’re nonetheless weighing whether or not you must get a COVID-19 shot, the Omicron variant is one main purpose to get vaccinated as quickly as doable, 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 photographs increase 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 prone 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, nevertheless 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 shouldn’t be very contagious nevertheless 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 mixture of those elements that would make this variant very worrisome.”

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