Black Health Matters brings you the latest update about the deadly coronavirus and its latest variant, Omicron. Sadly, the cases of the Omicron variant have multiplied since rearing its ugly head in November. Scientists are racing against the clock to understand how this new variant works.
Studies revealed this month offered some clues about how the vaccines worked against this variant. Here is what we know so far.
Facts So Far About The Omicron Variant
Unfortunately, this variant may not be the last one we see in this pandemic. Scientists warn that they will continue to emerge as the virus spreads. This variant possesses more than thirty mutations to the virus’ spike proteins, which cover the outside of the virus and are the main targets of vaccines and treatments like monoclonal antibodies.
The mutations may help the variant spread and evade protective antibodies generated by vaccines or natural immunity from previous infections. On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the omicron variant is spreading faster than any other strain of COVID-19.
As of right now, studies don’t show that this variant causes serious illness. The first look into the variant came from cases in South Africa. The studies show Omicron may cause less severe illness than the Delta variant. The Delta variant remains the dominant strain of coronavirus in most countries. On average, South African health officials see 29% fewer people admitted to the hospital than the previous wave. This information is encouraging, but it is just too soon to tell what the variant is capable of.
Luckily, the few dozen cases of the new variant have been mild. The CDC studied 43 people with the variant and only one was hospitalized for two days. The most common symptoms reported were coughing, fatigue, and congestion or runny nose. Most of the participants were fully vaccinated and one-third of the participants had the booster shot. It isn’t known whether this variant causes more illness in children or infants. The CDC will continue to monitor the variant. There is still a cause for concern of a spike overwhelming the health care systems.