All things Omicron


Rachel Phillips, Staff

Kasey Brammell

On November 26, members of the W.H.O Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution identified another mutation of Covid-19, known as the Omicron variant. This strain, while initially detected in South Africa has already emerged in 20 countries around the world, the most recent being Brazil and Canada. The rapid transmission and potential immunity of the virus to current vaccinations have further raised alarm, particularly as the travel-heavy holiday season quickly approaches. However, despite its transmission rates, health experts remain optimistically hesitant to label the virus as severe or prevalent as the Delta Variant- which remains the most infectious mutation. Dr. Fauci, White House Medical Chief Advisor and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has coordinated with South African health officials in determining the symptoms of early cases and severity of a potential outbreak. However, Dr. Fauci remains adamant that a more accurate understanding of the virus requires testing on its potential immunity evasion, which may be at least two weeks away. In the meantime, many countries are implementing global precautions through travel restrictions or temporary travel bans. In the United States, President Joe Biden has enacted a travel ban from those attempting to enter the United States from South Africa. This decision is currently being considered on a “week to week” basis, contingent on the arrival of new information regarding the variant. In his most recent statement, Joe Biden has also promised not to blind-side Europe with sudden travel restrictions before the holiday season, a decision that is again contingent on the arrival of new information in the upcoming weeks. In addition to travel bans, many countries are again emphasizing the importance of vaccination and the newly available booster shots. As Dr. Fauci states, “we don’t know what degree of diminution of protection is going to be. But we know that when you boost somebody, you elevate your level of protection very high. And we are hoping, and I think with good reason, to feel good that there will be some degree of protection. Therefore, as we said, if you’re unvaccinated get vaccinated, and if you’re vaccinated, get boosted.”

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