More information is needed to determine Omicron variant’s impact, says medical professionals

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 6:40 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has many wondering if the world will ever get out of the pandemic.

The Omicron variant was first reported in South Africa less than a week ago, and countries worldwide have begun conducting research to understand its potential impact.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Hiren Pokharna with Baptist Hospital said medical professionals are already receiving data on the variant.

“They suggested that the symptoms are relatively mild at this time in terms of simple fatigue, some muscle aches, scratchy throat, sort of dry cough. There are no increased mortalities, no increased rate of deaths, or so far, that have been documented over the last three to four weeks that this variant has been found in South Africa,” Dr. Pokharna said.

As information about the symptoms with Omicron becomes available, scientists can test the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots.

Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health, said that vaccine effectiveness against the variant should be determined soon because of prior research on the virus.

“I think the chances that this variant will completely evade our vaccines, extremely unlikely. We will have that data, both laboratory data and clinic data, in the next week or two at most,” Dr. Jha said.

Dr. Pokharna said because vaccines are already effective against other strands, including the Delta variant, people should not panic about the Omicron variant.

“Most of these institutes have said that they have the ability to make modifications in their vaccine boosters pretty quickly if any changes need to be made. So, I think we are much more prepared than what we were many months ago,” Dr. Pokharna said.

While this is a new strand, medical professionals still recommend the current vaccine and booster shots.

“There is no doubt in my mind that if you’re fully vaccinated and especially if you’re boosted, you’re going to have more protection against this variant,” Dr. Jha said.

Copyright 2021 WLBT. All rights reserved.