Over the weekend a new variant of the SARS-Cov-2 or Covid-19 virus was reported in South Africa called Omicron. The variant has spread to several other countries surrounding South Africa and cases were also recently reported throughout parts of Europe as well. There is still much unknown about this particular variant of the virus, but what we do know is alarming. Health officials have said that it is a cause for concern but not for panic.
The Omicron variant was designated as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization since it has an unusual combination of mutations that enables it to spread faster than the Delta variant of the virus. In all the variant has a total number of 50 mutations more than 30 of those were found in the spike protein which is the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack. Scientists are currently trying to determine whether the current vaccines for covid are effective against the new variant or if the virus will be able to evade them.
“I would assume that a new vaccine may be needed as mutations in the spike protein are crucial to how the virus invades and attacks the human body.”, Senior Ben Collett explained
Pfizer during this process has announced that if they do develop new vaccines for the Omicron variant the vaccines would be available within a hundred days of development. However, the CEO of Pfizer mentioned that the current vaccine plus a booster will be enough to prevent severe illness. Other scientists agree with this statement and think that it is still too early to tell the full impact of the mutations on vaccine efficacy.
“I think that new vaccines specifically created for the Omicron variant will be needed going into the future to help stop it from being transmitted and becoming the dominant variant.”, Senior Ben Collett exclaimed
American health authorities have reported at least one case so far inside of the United States in the state of California, and the Biden Administration has placed travel restrictions on several African countries where cases have been reported. Other nations have followed the United States in this matter as well. On Monday, President Joe Biden said U.S. health officials do not currently believe that additional measures will be needed, but they are working to speed up vaccination efforts. There will not be another lockdown or shutdown according to what the President said during Monday’s press conference. Also, Biden plans to announce a new strategy in hopes to curb the virus this winter. These plans are to be announced sometime soon.
“I think that government-mandated lockdowns are effective when a virus spreads rapidly as it prevents it from being transmitted easily.”, Senior Noah Backus explained “President Joe Biden probably took into account the current state of the economic growth happening in the United States, and other’s opinions on shutdowns when concluding his decision,” Senior Ben Collett firmly stated.