Nov. 29, 2021 — Well being 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 final week that the variant had already unfold in numerous 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 as we speak, however he harassed that the brand new variant is a “trigger for concern, not a trigger for panic.”
“The mutations within the Omicron variant are regarding, and for a number of days, now we have been shifting as quick as attainable to execute our technique to handle this variant,” Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, mentioned in a statement.
Plenty of 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 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 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 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.
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 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, you need to keep calm, says William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive medication 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 as we speak — 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 massive variety of mutations renders the vaccines much less efficient towards 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?
In case you are 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 attainable, 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’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, severe 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 towards it. That’s not significantly 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 components that would make this variant very worrisome.”