Omicron: 5 Things to Know About the New Variant
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The world is in a scare as a new strain of the coronavirus has emerged. Experts have named it the omicron.
1. What is it?
The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is the latest strain of the virus. Many countries are now reporting cases of this strain. Experts said this strain has unusual mutations which could mean it can spread faster.
It was first reported in South Africa and recent cases are linked to that country. However, experts said it was already in the Netherlands one week before South Africa reported its first case.
It was named after the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet.
2. Where is it?
Twenty-four countries have reported cases of the omicron virus.
On Monday, 33 cases were confirmed in Europe: Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Czechia, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Portugal.
It was also found in USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel and South Africa. Other African nations include: Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
3. Is it dangerous?
Though there is alarm over the new variant, and countries have banned air travel to some countries, scientists are still unclear whether omicron is more transmissible than the delta variant and other versions of the virus.
It is reported to have “unusually high” number of mutations that causes COVID-19 to have more of the key spike proteins it uses to get into the healthy cells it attacks.
4. Will the vaccines work against it?
Health experts are analyzing whether or not the vaccines available will be effective against the new strain.
US research is being done to see if it evades immunity from the available vaccinations.
The Pfizer company said it would develop and produce a “tailor-made vaccine” to fight omicron in about 100 days.
Moderna said it was testing boosters to see if they could be used against the omicron variant.
5. Will governments implement new lockdowns and restrictive measures to prevent spread of omicron?
Countries have not implemented lockdowns because of lockdowns.
As of right now, Biden said he would not lobby for restrictions but urged everyone to wear masks.
Omicron has not been reported in the Bahamas or the Caribbean as yet. It remains to be seen if it will cause a lockdown under a new government in the country.