Omicron variant raising concerns worldwide
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A new variant of the coronavirus is raising concerns around the world.
On Thursday, health officials confirmed that the Omicron variant is spreading through the southern part of Africa, and our federal government is already taking action to help slow the spread.
Word of the Omicron variant is not the news anyone wanted to hear as the holiday season shifts into gear.
Many are still reeling from the surge caused by the delta variant.
“There’ve been several hundred cases reported out of South Africa and surrounding countries, and the concern there is that the increase in cases, at least in South Africa, is going sort of straight up, so it implies that it’s pretty infectious and pretty transmissible,” said Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at UAB, Dr. Michael Saag.
Scientists said the omicron variant contains more mutations than expected, but it’s too soon to say how widespread it will become.
“It’s sorta like a tropical depression that we got to keep our eye on, and we don’t know the degree to which it will strengthen or not and how much it will affect the United States and what part of the United States,” Dr. Saag said.
But the coronavirus pandemic has taught that it doesn’t take long for viruses to spread to other countries.
President Joe Biden as already halted travel from South Africa and seven other African countries beginning Monday.
Local doctors said we can’t be in too big of a hurry to get back to normal.
“We should always keep our guard up. This virus is going to be with us for a long time, years, maybe even a decade, I don’t know, but we should expect variants of different sorts to pop up. But the fact that we’re warned and the fact that we’re… we can prepare ourselves by putting our masks back on in public just for the time being until we know more about this, I think that’s a simple thing that we all can do,” Dr. Saag said.
Dr. Saag is once again stressing the importance of getting vaccinated if you haven’t already rolled up your sleeve and getting a booster if you’re already vaccinated.
Scientists at BioNTech have already started investigating the impact the new variant has on its vaccine developed with Pfizer with data expected within the next couple of weeks.
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