We still don’t know enough about the Omicron variant to panic


What we don’t know: Amid all the panic, it’s important to remember that we still know very little about the new variable – and we’ve been worried before about variables that did nothing. Critical questions are whether it increases transmissibility, whether it worsens health outcomes (and thus leads to higher mortality and hospitalizations), and most importantly, whether it erodes the immunity provided by vaccines or previous infections. We don’t have definitive answers to any of these questions yet – although it seems likely, given the mutations, that they will affect the effectiveness of vaccines to some extent.

If so, vaccine manufacturers will have to move quickly to come up with new versions. Fortunately, using mRNA technology, it is relatively easy to reformulate a vaccine. Moderna’s chief medical officer, Paul Burton, He told the BBC Sunday said his company could have a new booster — one modified to handle an omicron — ready to be operational as soon as early next year.

Researchers around the world are now racing to gather the data we need to know how anxious we should be. Nor do we know exactly how Omicron originated. Experts have long warned that unequal access to a vaccine globally – South Africa, where Omicron appears to have originated, has a 35% vaccination rate – poses a global risk as it gives the virus more opportunities to mutate.

What you can do: As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the best thing you and your loved ones can do to protect yourselves is to get vaccinated. If you have been given a booster injection, take it. While it is likely that Omicron will degrade the effectiveness of the vaccine, it will not eliminate it completely.





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