Omicron is the newest variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. Like Delta, it’s been designated by the World Well being Group as a “Variant of Concern” (extra extreme than a “Variant of Curiosity”). Additionally like Delta, it’s transferring quick. Circumstances spiked in South Africa just lately, and circumstances of an infection with the variant have since been present in New York, Hawaii, California, Minnesota, and Colorado.
So, sure, Omicron is one thing public well being officers are involved about. Nevertheless it hasn’t completely modified the foundations of the sport round COVID. The WHO nonetheless recommends masks, air flow, distancing, and vaccines as our greatest instruments in opposition to it.
How dangerous is the Omicron variant?
Omicron gained public well being officers’ discover as a result of its numbers rose quickly in a few southern African countries, and since it has a number of genetic mutations that could possibly be dangerous information, however we don’t know but how dangerous. You’re not listening to a lot about it as a result of it’s disastrously dangerous; you’re listening to about it as a result of it’s regarding and it’s new.
(This, by the way in which, is an effective lesson in why we don’t identify illnesses or variants after locations: there was a distinct “South African variant” earlier within the pandemic, no relation to this one. And Omicron probably didn’t originate in South Africa; it was simply researched most completely by that nation’s scientists.)
In response to the World Health Organization:
- Omicron may be extra transmissible than different variants, however we’re undecided but.
- Omicron may trigger extra extreme illness than different variants, however as soon as once more, we’re nonetheless undecided.
- “Present vaccines stay efficient in opposition to extreme illness and demise.” We don’t know but if vaccines have a lowered efficacy in opposition to delicate illness.
- COVID exams can nonetheless detect Omicron.
- Corticosteroids and IL6 receptor blockers—two of the remedies which might be used for COVID—nonetheless work. We don’t find out about different remedies.
- In response to “preliminary proof,” prior an infection could not shield very nicely in opposition to a re-infection with Omicron.
What ought to I do?
Our present instruments nonetheless work nicely, so far as we all know. Vaccines are significantly necessary. Evidently present vaccines nonetheless shield very nicely in opposition to extreme illness and demise, and it’s seemingly they’ll nonetheless shield in opposition to less-severe illness from Omicron. (There are additionally nonetheless loads of Delta and different variant viruses on the market.)
In actual fact, the brand new variant arguably makes vaccination even extra necessary. For those who’ve had COVID earlier than and figured that you just’re in all probability immune, chances are you’ll be extra vulnerable to Omicron than to earlier variants. And vaccines shield you and the folks round you for all the explanations they did earlier than. Bear in mind, vaccines are now available for everyone aged 5 and older, so get your photographs if you happen to haven’t already.