Nov. 29, 2021 — Well being consultants 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 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 in the present day, however he pressured 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 now have been transferring as quick as potential to execute our technique to deal with this variant,” Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, mentioned in a statement.

Pfizer says that knowledge about its vaccine’s safety towards Omicron ought to 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 various 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 all over the world, 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 instances of the Omicron variant have been reported within the US.

Both manner, you need to keep calm, says William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive drugs and infectious ailments at Vanderbilt College Medical Middle in Nashville.

“Even when it had been to be right here in the US, the dominant — the 99% that’s inflicting illness in your neighborhood in the present day — 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 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 need to get a COVID-19 shot, the Omicron variant is one main purpose 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, based on Schaffner.

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

“I can’t inform you precisely what it [a booster shot] will do towards Omicron, however there’s 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. Due to this fact, all three are regarding, Wen says.

“Let’s say that one thing is extra transmissible, but it surely doesn’t trigger extra extreme illness and the vaccines work very properly towards it. That’s not notably regarding,” says Wen.

“Or, if one thing will not be very contagious but it surely’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 might make this variant very worrisome.”