What you need to know about the Omicron COVID-19 variant

HAMPTON ROADS, Virginia – South Africa has become the zero point for the Omicron variant. A variant of concern due to mutations that scientists believe could make it more transmissible than the Delta variant.

“From what we hear from South Africa, this is a very transmissible variant similar to Delta. With this change in the spike protein, it is more difficult to target with their antibodies which we produce through to vaccinations, ”said Dr. Ryan Light with said Greenbrier Family Medicine.

So far, the variant has been linked to a spike in cases outside of Johannesburg. The United States has not yet reported any cases of the Omicron variant.

“We don’t know how well our vaccines are going to work against this. But Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are going to be working on doing their homework to see if their vaccines will work and how effective they are in this new variant,” said Dr. Light.

The United States will restrict visitors from South Africa and seven other countries in the region from Monday.

“What we need to do first is verify that the rapid test will detect the new variant. Because the rapid test may not detect it as easily as the other variants,” Dr Light said. .

The president of Celebrate Healthcare in Hampton Roads says she believes the variant is having an impact by pushing more people to get vaccinated.

“We have seen more people come in and get their first injection because of this new variant or come in and get their booster and weren’t planning to receive their booster before,” said Gaylene Kanoyton, president of Celebrate Healthcare.

A mom from Hampton Roads says she encourages her kids to practice social distancing even more now.

“I’m concerned about the variant because I have four kids who go to school,” said Kaneesha Woodson, a mom from Hampton Roads.

While there have been no reported cases of the Omicron variant in the United States, Pfizer and Moderna say they can quickly adjust their vaccine if needed.

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