The Omicron variant is a new variant that arose in the past few weeks, alerting many American residents.
Omicron is a new variant of the original coronavirus and contains more mutations compared than other variants. Experts worry that Omicron may be more transmissible than the other variants and it may evade immune protection from the vaccine.
“What we have to do is get the virus and take antibodies from a vaccinated individual and see if the antibodies can neutralize this variant,” Dr. Vivek Cherian, MD, a Chicago-based internal medicine physician explains.
“If it does, we’re in good shape, if it doesn’t then we likely would have to modify our current vaccines.”
“Omicron has upward of 30 different mutations on the spike protein, which are located on the outer surface of the virus and aid the virus in entering human cells, whereas the dominant Delta variant and others had far less than that,” says Adrianna Bravo, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and senior medical advisor for Inspire Diagnostics.
“The Omicron variant is distinctive because of the relatively large number of changes in the genome of the virus,” Dr. Jim Versalovic, MD, pathologist-in-chief and co-chair of COVID-19 command at Texas Children’s Hospital, explains.
“This virus is evolving during the pandemic. More than 30 changes have been characterized in the S gene encoding the spike protein, and some of these changes have been linked with immune escape or the ability to evade an effective immune response.”
Experts say the best way to avoid the Omicron variant is to continue following minimum health requirements. They advice to get vaccinated, and if you haven’t gotten your booster shot yet, it’s time to get it.
Make sure to wear a well-fitting mask, maintain physical distancing and avoid crowded places, ensure that your environment is well-ventilated, practice good hand hygiene, test often and especially after being in higher risk environments or activities, self-isolate and test if you experience symptoms and adhere to quarantine restrictions if you have been exposed to a positive case.
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