Updated: Mar 14
Although not yet a dominant strain here in the US, it has already been three weeks since the discovery of the Omicron variant. The variant has been spreading rapidly, but many questions remain unanswered, like:
How transmissible is it?
Where has Omicron spread so far?
How are scientists tracking it?
How much severe disease will it cause?
Can it evade immunity from current vaccines or previous infections?
Will current boosters improve protection against Omicron?
Based on data from Britain and South Africa, where the variant is already widespread and heading towards being the dominant strain, there is room for us to think that the same pattern could follow here in the US. With many of these aspects still unknown, a mix of worrisome and encouraging clues continues to emerge.
Early evidence suggests that fully vaccinated individuals seem to have better protection against Omicron compared to unvaccinated individuals. Even the breakthrough infections with Omicron have been mild. Since repeated exposure to SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein, either through infection or a booster dose, could have neutralizing activity against Omicron, scientists are very optimistic that the boosters might improve the protection.