BOSTON (CBS) – Newly discovered Omicron Variations of the coronavirus are causing concern around the world, including here in Massachusetts, but there is still much to learn about it.
Here’s what we know so far about it:
The pandemic is far from over, and like other coronavirus variants that have emerged, Omicron emerged in a largely unvaccinated region of the world, South Africa. This once again highlights the importance of universal vaccination for pandemic control.
While no Omicron cases have been identified here in the United States, it has certainly been here. We need enhanced testing and sequencing of the gene to identify it and other variants that may emerge.
The Omicron variant has dozens of mutations in the mutant protein, which is the viral region that current vaccines target.
Here’s what we don’t know:
We don’t know if this new variant is more contagious, or in other words more contagious than the Delta variant. There is some evidence that it is so.
We don’t know if Omicron makes people sicker. There is some assurance that it causes milder illness, especially in vaccinated people.
We also don’t know if these mutant protein mutations make the vaccine less effective. Scientists are optimistic that the vaccine will still work, at least to some extent. But vaccine makers, including Pfizer and Moderna, have developed formulations that specifically target the Omicron variant and say, if needed, they can widely distribute a new vaccine within Next few months.
But it will take time, at least a few weeks, for a clearer picture of whether Omicron is more contagious, more dangerous and more resistant to drugs.
What to do until more information is available:
In the meantime, the best way to protect yourself against Omicron, Delta or other Covid variants is to get vaccinated. And if you’ve been vaccinated, get a booster shot.
And I would be extra cautious about wearing an effective mask in public indoor spaces and whenever you are around other people who may not be vaccinated.
Mallika offers her best advice, but as always, consult your personal physician before making any decisions about your personal health.
https://boston.cbslocal.com/2021/11/29/omicron-variant-questions-south-africa-travel-ban-vaccines-covid-19-coronavirus-dr-mallika-marshall/ Dr. Mallika Marshall Explains What’s Known and What’s Not – CBS Boston