The Omicron Variant has arrived in the United States. According to a recent CNN article, the variant seems to be spreading faster than previous variants and has already been detected in 77 countries- including the United States. Scientists have already noted that this variant seems to have an unusually high number of mutations- including some that may make it adept at evading the body’s (or vaccine acquired) immune response. While a lot of research is still underway regarding this variant, there are some things that we do know about the Omicron Variant.
On November 24, 2021, a new variant of Coronavirus was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the CDC, this new variant was first detected in specimens collected on November 11, 2021 in Botswana and on November 14, 2021 in South Africa.
On November 26, 2021, WHO named Omicron and classified it as a Variant of Concern (VOC). On November 30, 2021, the United States designated Omicron as a Variant of Concern, and on December 1, 2021 the first confirmed U.S. case of Omicron was identified. The Omicron is the latest variant of the original Coronavirus that was identified in January of 2020.
The CDC website shares a great analogy on the development of variants: “If you think about a virus like a tree growing and branching out; each branch on the tree is slightly different than the others. By comparing the branches, scientists can label them according to the differences. These small differences, or variants, have been studied and identified since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Currently, there is little concrete information on how the variant can possibly affect those who are unvaccinated, vaccinated without a booster, or even those vaccinated with a recent booster shot. Preliminary information out of South Africa indicates, “that vaccines provide less protection against the new strain.” However, it was also added that, “they still see indications that Omicron causes milder symptoms than previous variants.”
While many feel that the news of milder symptoms may indicate there is less cause for concern, according to CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts that Omicron will become the dominating variant in the United States. However, it is too early to make “firm conclusions” on whether the symptoms will be milder or stronger than the other variants that have emerged thus far. The article does go on to stress that, “even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems.”
Yes. In most, if not all cases, the same testing that has been done since the beginning of the pandemic will detect whether you are carrying the virus. Tests such as the Medek COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test have even been tested against different variants.
There is so much information. What’s the most important takeaway?
As has been the case since the beginning, the longer the virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to change and mutate – and become more difficult to stop. It’s vital that we all stay vigilant and do our best to be caring, responsible members of our community. Taking recommended safety measures, testing regularly with test kits, and getting vaccinated (with booster shots), are all ways to protect yourself and your loved ones.
With Medek Test Kits you can keep yourself safe at any place. Whether it be at work or at home Medek test kits give you an instant safety of mind knowing if you are positive or not within 10 minutes. Don’t put people at risk. Get tested today.