Everything You Need to Know About the Omicron Variant
On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized a new variant of the coronavirus — strain B 1.1.529, also known as the Omicron variant. Governments around the world are scrambling to collect data and make preparations for lockdowns; and while the variant is in its early stages, there are some insights to be had about Omicron thus far. Here are some important facts you should know about the Omicron variant.
Where is Omicron?
The Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa, although its exact origins are unknown. Soon after doctors in South Africa confirmed Omicron’s existence, a group of 13 airline passengers flying into Amsterdam from South Africa tested positive for the variant. From there, the virus continued to spread largely undetected, but is now confirmed to be in at least 63 countries.
Omicron in the US
Thus far, the Omicron variant has been detected in 25 US states. Most US cases have been mild, although this is because the majority of the infected were fully vaccinated and some had already received their booster. Much like Delta, Omicron affects the unvaccinated more severely, raising concerns about already-overwhelmed hospital systems.
Vaccine Efficacy Against Omicron
Early evidence suggests Omicron causes “a reduction in vaccine efficacy against infection and transmission”, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “Given the current available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” it added.
Data is still being collected regarding vaccine efficacy, but preliminary data suggests the Pfizer vaccine is only 23% effective at preventing infection, but prevents severe symptoms when infection does occur.
Getting the booster is more important than ever. The BBC reports in the UK that the third booster, “prevents around 75% of people getting any COVID symptoms.”
What are the Symptoms of Omicron?
Data is still being collected regarding Omicron’s symptoms, but there are some early throughlines that are worth mentioning.
Although Omicron does share some symptoms with other variants, South African doctors are already reporting that its symptoms are different from the Delta variant symptoms. The main symptoms of Omicron are:
- Body aches
- Occasional sore throat
The telltale symptoms of Delta, on the other hand, are elevated pulse rate, low oxygen levels, and loss of taste/smell. Data is still being collected on Omicron’s severity, but so far it seems that symptoms tend to be mild.
Is Omicron More Contagious?
Omicron is 4.2 times more transmissible than the Delta variant, in its early stages, according to a Japanese study. Considering the fact that Delta is 50% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, Omicron’s capacity for spreading is alarming and emphasizes the need for proper precautions such as getting the vaccine and booster.
How to Protect Yourself From the Omicron Variant
Omicron could be a special case, according to preliminary data — WHO states that, “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant,” as compared to other variants.
This means that even if you’ve contracted COVID-19 in the past, you can still become infected by the Omicron variant. To combat this as effectively as possible, medical experts around the globe have stressed the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination and booster, if you are eligible. Data will continue to be collected and guidance will be formulated accordingly, but in the meantime you should take normal precautions:
- Wear a facemask while occupying indoor public spaces
- Monitor indoor air quality
- Social distance whenever possible
- Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
- Wash your hands frequently
Aftermath is Here to Help Maintain COVID-19 Safety 24/7
Aftermath Services has years of experience in dealing with infectious diseases and biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work that regular janitorial staff perform on a daily basis. Our biohazard professionals are trained to perform COVID-19 cleanup and indoor air quality testing that involves facility/structure disinfection using our proprietary disinfectants coupled with verifiable surface testing.
Every infectious disease case is a biohazard situation, and every biohazard situation can include infectious disease. COVID-19 is an extremely serious situation and we understand that the health and safety of you, your family, and employees are on the line. Contact us at 877- 695-7054 today to discuss our COVID-19 cleaning methods or to schedule an appointment.