The omicron variant is the latest to cause concern around the world. South Africa reported the detection of the new variant to the World Health Organization (WHO) in November, and on December 1, the first confirmed case of omicron in the United States was confirmed and has been rapidly spreading with many cases right here in Houston.
According to the Houston Methodist, through new accelerated testing methods, the hospital system’s comprehensive genome sequencing project reveals omicron is now responsible for 94% of its symptomatic COVID-19 patients. COVID-19 PCR testing also shows a greater than 50% positivity rate for several days in a row since Dec. 23, which is a new record for daily test volume and positive tests, exceeding those set during previous waves of the pandemic.
That data alone illustrates the seriousness of omicron, and there is much more out there.
To aid in keeping you and your loved ones safe, here’s what you need to know about omicron, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
- The omicron variant is likely more transmissible than the original variant. Anyone infected with the Omicron variant can spread the virus to others, even if they have received a vaccine or are asymptomatic.
- It is not yet known if the Omicron variant causes more severe illness and death than other variants through infection, reinfection, and breakthrough infections in people who received COVID vaccinations.
- Though it is likely for fully vaccinated people to receive the virus, current vaccines are expected to prevent severe illness, hospitalizations and death from the Omicron variant.
- It is still being determined how well existing treatments for Omicron work. Because of the mutated genetic make-up of the variant, some treatments are expected to remain effective while others will be less effective.
- The CDC maintains that vaccines, masks, and testing for COVID-19 are our best defenses for slowing the spread and limiting new variants