Omicron Variant: What is it?

The SARS-Covid-2 Omicron Variant emerged in South Africa on November 24th, 2021. First reported as a potentially high-contagious strain of the Covid-19 virus, emerging data suggests this is true. The same data indicates that the virus, while significantly more contagious, is equal or less than the Covid-19 Delta Variant in terms of severity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) named the Omicron Variant for the Greek letter as is the practice for “variants of concern”. Initial data indicates the variant is significantly evolved from previous variants which led to serious concerns about transmission rates and vaccine resistance. However, emerging data tells us the variant may not cause severe infections as initially thought. As a result, the Omicron Variant is being watched intently, but is not yet cause for alarm.

To date, Omicron has been identified in U.S. 15 states and numerous countries. Our live Where is Omicron? Map tracks emerging cases of the Omicron Variant. Keep in mind, as we collect and analyze data from around the world, all of this information is likely to change. Also, know your sources. Social media is not a reliable source of information in Covid-19 (or anything for that matter). Our sources are very carefully selected and include almost exclusively government entities and strictly scientific sources.

Variant Uniqueness

Omicron Variant
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Vaccine Effectiveness

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO, current vaccines appear to be just as effective against the Omicron Variant as against the Delta Variant and original strains of Covid-19.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, recently stated that widespread vaccination is still the most important tool against the Omicron Variant.

If you’re concerned about the Omicron Variant, get vaccinated. However, regular hand washing, wearing a mask, and avoiding crowds in confined spaces are still very effective.

Is the Omicron Variant in my area?

Possibly. As of December 5th, 2021, the Omicron Variant had been identified in 15 U.S. States. We maintain a live map of where Omicron has been identified in the U.S. According to the CDC, the Delta Variant remains roughly 99% of all Covid-19 cases at this time.

We do know that variants spread through travel. While it emerged in South Africa, this particular variant was quickly found on every continent. According to the CDC, we should expect a significant rise in the number of Omicron Variant cases in the coming weeks and months.

What’s Next for the Omicron Variant

There are various was we can respond to the variant. Here are just a few.

  • Get vaccinated and boosted!
  • Wash hands with warm soap and water for at least 2 minutes.
  • If hand washing isn’t possible, use hand sanitizer.
  • Wear a mask, especially in crowded spaces or where you might be within 6 feet of someone.
  • Keep your distance. Social distancing is still very effective, although the new variant may make this less effective.