The Omicron variant of COVID is already traveling across the US.  It is thought to be 5-7 times more contagious than the highly contagious delta variant.  Right now it is accounting for approximately 3% of cases across the US with New Jersey and New York having an estimated 13% ….and climbing. 

Omicron varies from prior COVID variations in that it has 30 mutations to the spike proteins.  These mutations are thought to help the virus spread and evade protective antibodies.  This is one of the reasons people who have had COVID before are just as susceptible to getting Omicron.   

While this variant may be more infective, in early studies it doesn’t appear that it is as deadly.  South Africa is reporting that individuals with the Omicron variant had a 29% reduced risk of hospitalization compared to other variants. 

Symptoms of Omicron often mimic allergies.  The most common symptoms are:

  •      Headache
  •      Congestion/sneezing
  •      Runny nose
  •      Sore scratchy throat
  •      Fatigue

Loss of taste and smell are no longer indicators of these new variants. 

How are the vaccines holding up against omicron? 

Pfizer released a statement earlier this month that a booster increased antibody titers by 25 fold which restored the effectivity to levels seen immediately after the two original injections.  These levels are thought to provide some protection against severe disease with Omicron. Keep in mind you can still get COVID even though you have been vaccinated.  The goal of the vaccine is not to avoid infection but to avoid serious illness. 

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Moderna is reporting similar statistics.  Two injections are 50 times less effective against Omicron but protection is restored with a booster. 

I have not seen any actual data on the J&J but since we know it does lose effectivity, I would suspect it is in the same category as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. 

Bottom line, if you have already had the vaccine then go get your booster.  Don’t just assume you will be protected against this variant.  If you haven’t had the vaccine then you might re-evaluate your options.  With this variant it is not a matter of who will get COVID but more of a matter of when. 

To your health,

 

Laura