A doctor recently explained how the mutations and changes to the spike protein can infect humans
The omicron coronavirus variant is one of pure concern, according to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
What is the omicron variant?
Over the holiday weekend, researchers in South Africa sounded the alarm on a new coronavirus variant that had been spreading in parts of Africa, as I wrote for the Deseret News.
The variant reportedly had dozens of mutations that worried experts, who said the variant could potentially evade vaccines and be resistant to antibodies.
The World Health Organization designed the variant to be called “omicron,” based on the letter in the Greek alphabet.
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Why is the omicron variant so dangerous?
Schaffner, the expert from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told WTVF-TV that the variant has a series of mutations that will make it more troubling for the current COVID-19 vaccines and antibodies.
“This omicron variant has accumulated a whole series of mutations that involve that critical aspect of the virus,” Schaffner said. “The thing that we call the spike protein. Think of the virus as a little ball with spikes sticking out. That spike protein is what we’re talking about. That’s the key. When the virus hits our cells, it lets the key get into the lock. It lets the virus get into the cell, multiply and start producing the disease. What the vaccine does is glom onto that spike protein, so it can’t get into our cells and therefore we’re protected. Can this new spike protein, on the omicron variant, evade the protections of our vaccines?”
Schaffner said he knows everyone is sick of COVID-19 and the pandemic. But, he said, hopefully, people will understand that the new variant shouldn’t be ignored and people will take proper precautions to stay safe.
“We’re going to be dealing with COVID in one form or another going forward. I’m afraid that’s the sad reality,” he told WTVF-TV.
How to stay safe from omicron variant
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all fully vaccinated Americans to get their COVID-19 boosters to help themselves stay safe from the new variant.
“Today, CDC is strengthening its recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, in a statement. “Everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after their initial J&J vaccine.”
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