Eastern Carolina experts examine new Omicron variant

Eastern Carolina experts examine new Omicron variant
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 9:11 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - While no cases of the new Omicron variant have been reported in the U.S., the Biden administration is still attempting preemptive measures.

Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant, has prompted quick action from President Joe Biden.

“The very day the World Health Organization identified the new variant, I took immediate steps to restrict travel to countries in southern Africa,” Biden said.

One of the seven countries the U.S. restricted travel to is South Africa, where Omicron reportedly first appeared on Nov. 9.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 90% of new COVID-19 cases in South Africa have been caused by the Omicron variant.

While there are no reported cases in the U.S. as of Monday, the virus has been identified in Ontario, Canada.

President Biden on Monday afternoon encouraged everyone to get ahead of the curve by getting vaccinated or a booster if you’re eligible.

Dr. Paul Cook, Brody School of Medicine Infectious Diseases chief, says it’s too early to tell if it is more infectious than other variants such as Delta.

“The data we have is mostly from southern Africa and the persons getting sick are usually young people,” Cook said.

If the current vaccines on the market don’t provide great protection against the Omicron variant, a new vaccine could be produced.

“If the present vaccines are not determined to be very effective, then particularly the mRNA vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer, those could be adjusted relatively quickly. We could probably have new vaccines available probably by January of next year,” Cook said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said it’s inevitable Omicron will be here in the U.S., but the question is will we be prepared for it.

Fauci says it will take two more weeks to have more definitive information on the variant’s severity and transmissibility.

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