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What you need to know about the omicron variant

Poynter: How much of a threat is it? Why is it so different from the others? Will the vaccines work against it? And answers to other questions.

  • “The new omicron variant is different in more than 30 ways from the virus we have seen in the past.
  • So far, infections from the new variant have produced mild symptoms.
  • We do not know yet if the currently approved vaccines protect us a little, a lot or not much at all from this version of the virus, but there is reason to believe the vaccines will provide at least some protection.
  • As of today, it appears most of the people infected by the omicron variant were not fully vaccinated.
  • The drug companies that made the vaccines are already working on a new version that could be needed to protect against this variant. The new version would not be available until sometime in 2022, if it is needed.
  • The variant was first noted by South African researchers, but it has been detected around Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. South Africa has documented the most cases, but it could be that as other countries — including the United States — look more closely at tests in the week ahead, we will find more cases. Late Sunday, the first two cases turned up in Canada. Health officials in Ontario said both of the positive cases were people who had recently traveled to Canada from Nigeria.
  • COVID-19 cases are rising in many states. Almost all of them are from the delta variant.
  • We will find out this week if Thanksgiving travel ignited a renewed outbreak, which experts expect.
  • The best thing individuals can do right now is what you should have done all along: Get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in crowds, increase ventilation and, if you show symptoms, get tested. If you turn up positive, then isolate..”

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