Omicron variant-A guide!: World Health Organization (WHO) reported a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.529, on November 24, 2021. This variant was detected for the first time in the specimens collected from Botswana and South Africa on November 11 and 14, respectively.
WHO designated the term Omicron to the variant B.1.1.529 and declared it as a variant of concern on November 26, 2021. The United States of America (USA) too classified Omicron as a variant of concern on November 30, and US confirmed the first case of Omicron on December 1.
Omicron variant-A guide!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national public health agency of the USA, has been cooperating with global public health to research more on Omicron variant. CDC has always used genomic surveillance throughout the pandemic to track the variants of COVID-19. Even after increased surveillance for Omicron, Delta continues to be the prime variant circulating across the United States.
Where has Omicron variant been detected in the USA?
CDC has been continuously working with health officials across the country to check the spread of Omicron. Omicron cases are present in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Texas, Washington and others.
More about Omicron:
The Omicron variant is likely to spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. But how easily it spreads compared to Delta variant remains unknown. More data is required to prove if Omicron will cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.
Currently available vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths if infected with the Omicron variant. However, people who are fully vaccinated are likely to be reinjected. Scientists and researchers are working to determine how well the existing treatments for COVID-19 will react against Omicron variant.
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How to fight Omicron?
Vaccines remain the best measure to protect people from COVID-19. Vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death and reducing the risks of transmission and emerging new variants. Presently, scientists are investigating how fully vaccinated people are protected against Omicron.
CDC suggests that everyone above the age of 5 years should get themselves vaccinated. CDC continues to recommend wearing masks in public places regardless of vaccination status as masks offer protection against all variants.
If you observe any symptoms, you should get yourself tested immediately. If you test positive, isolate yourself, wear a mask and get in touch with the public health department. Until and unless the gravity of risk that Omicron variant possesses is known, it is important to protect yourself and others.
What does CDC know more about Omicron?
Scientists of CDC are working with partners to gather more data and samples to learn more about the characteristics of the Omicron variant. Research has already started. CDC uses genomic surveillance to track variants of COVID-19. CDC established multiple ways to connect and share genomic sequence data being produced by CDC, public health laboratories, and commercial diagnostic laboratories.