The Latest on Omicron
As there is a lot of information regarding the Omicron variant, here is our latest slideshow to offer some insights on it.
The South Africa Minister of Health Joe Phaahla made the announcement on Thursday of the discovery of the variant, identified as B.1.1.529. It is unknown where it first emerged, but was first seen in South Africa and Botswana and contains as many as 30 mutations in the spike protein.
The World Health Organization (WHO) renamed the B.1.1.529 variant as Omicron last Friday. The WHO also said it was a variant of concern.
As of Monday afternoon, 44 countries have restricted travel restrictions from some African countries to try and stem the number of cases coming in. The United States is looking at restricting travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
In an interview with CBS Mornings TV show this week, Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institution of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed the need to remain calm. "We should not be freaking out. We should be doing the things that we know work when you're dealing with a pandemic virus. It's not the time to panic."
Moderna announced in recent days it was going to develop an Omicron-specific booster candidate, mRNA-1273.529. The company said it is part of their strategy to advance variant-specific candidates for a subset of variants of significant concern. This year, this included Beta- and Delta-specific boosters.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strengthened their recommendation that all individuals 18 and older receive a booster dose. Adults are eligible for a booster shot 6 months after a regimen of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or 2 months after a dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.
On Thanksgiving, both public health officials from South Africa and the United Kingdom gave press conferences discussing what they had learned about the new COVID-19 variant.
By the next day, the World Health Organization (WHO) had renamed it the Omicron variant, and has been giving updates on information they have obtained.
Here in the United States, President Joe Biden and his administration have been working towards reducing travel from the African countries that are thus far affected by the Omicron.
There is still a lot to be learned about the new variant and information is quickly being disseminated to the public to help clinicians and the general public understand what is going on.
Although there is still a lot to be learned, check out our latest slideshow to find out the latest developments.