What Experts Know About the Omicron Variant

What Experts Know About the Omicron Variant

The recent discovery of the covid-19 Omicron variant has left the world in somewhat of an uproar. In late November 2021, the World Health Organization classified it officially as a variant of concern. Across the country, the number of positive Omicron cases is rising rapidly. The following will sum up everything experts know about the Omicron covid-19 variant.

This variant spreads quickly.

Experts warn that their first-hand data shows high ease of transmission with the Omicron variant, making it a top concern. For example, in less than three weeks, Omicron became the cause of most new coronavirus cases in patients at Houston Methodist. In addition, Omicron accounted for over 80% of every new symptomatic covid-19 case as of five days before Christmas. In comparison, the Delta variant, active in the United States through the summer and fall, took nearly three months to surpass 80% of the total cases once it was initially detected in the Houston area. Though some observations suggest that the Omicron variant causes less severe symptoms, it is still too early to be sure if this is true.

Existing monoclonal antibodies are far less effective against this variant.

It is unfortunate but clearly apparent that the two most common monoclonal antibodies available to fight covid-19 are much less effective at fighting the Omicron variant. These essential therapies played an indispensable role in the early coronavirus treatment in individuals vaccinated with high risk or unvaccinated. Sotrovimab remains the only monoclonal antibody treatment that is still effective against the Omicron variant but is not widely available and accounts for only a small portion of the therapies purchased and distributed by our government.

Getting your covid-19 booster is essential.

Now is the time to get a covid-19 booster if you are eligible because of the dramatic increase in covid-19 cases across the nation. It has already been proven that covid-19 boosters can help protect individuals from getting seriously sick from the Delta variant. Furthermore, recent data shows that this protection is likely to extend to protection for the Omicron variant. Recently released study results from Pfizer show that three doses of their covid-19 vaccine better protect individuals against the Omicron variant. In addition, Moderna has recently released preliminary findings that show their covid-19 booster effectively increases levels of antibodies against the Omicron variant.

Our best covid-19 defenses remain the same.

The most effective way to keep yourself safe from covid-19, including the Omicron variant, is to remain aware of your surroundings and the level of community spread in your area. You should also always exercise covid-19 precautions that have been proven effective, including:

  • Getting a covid-19 vaccination.
  • Getting covid-19 boosters when you are eligible.
  • Wearing a mask.
  • Social distancing in public indoor spaces.
  • Avoiding large indoor crowds.
  • Proper handwashing techniques and avoidance of face touching.

Even when you have your vaccinations and booster, it is still essential to wear a mask in public or around vulnerable individuals. You should also do your best to avoid crowds. No matter the variant, the unvaccinated are at a greater risk. The most pressing issue of the coronavirus pandemic is that far too many people still haven't received vaccinations. In fact, Houston's first Omicron variant-related death has been reported as an unvaccinated patient in his 50s. Studies show that the covid-19 vaccinations are our best defense against the virus and are safe and effective.

You should get a vaccination even if you've already had covid-19. Natural immunity is not as strong or long-lasting as vaccinations' immunity. In addition, studies show that unvaccinated adults are two times more likely to be re-infected with the coronavirus than vaccinated people after the illness recovery.

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