Omicron COVID Variant

As we are heading into the holiday season, loaded with traveling and family gatherings, a new COVID-19 variant has emerged,

As of December 5, 2021, at least 16 states have confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa.

While Omicron was initially thought to be more transmissible, WHO says this is currently unclear. “It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta,” The World Health Organization says. “The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.” However, the CDC states that while unknown, it is likely that Omicron is in fact more transmissible than the Delta or other variants. “The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms,” the CDC says. While scientists are rushing to find out the symptoms and transmission of this variant, it is beginning to pop up in many states across the country. “At least 29 cases have been confirmed across 11 states: California, New Jersey, Utah, Colorado, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Nebraska, Hawaii, New York and Minnesota,” New York Times says.
As athe result of its easy transmission abilities, the Omicron variant has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization and the CDC. “Because little is known about Omicron currently, it is important for the public health and medical communities as well as the general public to remain vigilant to reduce potential exposure,” the CDC says.

At this point in time, the new symptoms, if there are any, are unclear and will notwon’t be clear for another one to two weeks. Although the future involving this variant is very unclear at this time, there have been no deaths from the Omicron variant yet. Worries about how this new variant will affect our school and the community around Findlay have been expressed by students. “I’m worried that the local businesses will soon go out of business or lose even more workers [if this variant causes another shutdown],” Junior Chloe Pahl says.
Some, although still concerned, are less worried about it due to the similarity to the Flu and its new variant every year. “I’m kind of in between [being worried and not being worried],” Sophomore Emmy Caton says. “People are saying it’s like the flu where there’s a new variant every year, but it also sounds a lot like what people were saying when the first wave of COVID hit and cases were going up.” Unfortunately, this variant also seems to be targeting younger people, exposing a larger threat to those under 40. In spite of this, those who are already vaccinated against COVID may already be protected against the Omicron variant. “Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant,” the CDC says.

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