Adapt to Survive – The Omicron Variant

Adapt to Survive - The Omicron Variant

Leah Dean, Staff Writer

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen this virus, the SARS-CoV-2, mutate constantly into many variants. We have seen the Alpha, Delta, Lambda, Mu and other variants. The World Health Organization began naming the variants after Greek letters to avoid public confusion and stigma. 

The Covid-19 variant that has recently emerged from South Africa was named after the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet–Omicron. These names are reserved for “variants of interest” or those with specific genetic markers that have been associated with changes to receptor binding, reduced efficacy of the existing vaccines, as well as predicted increase in transmissibility or disease severity.

What concerns scientists is how the COVID-19 virus is able to adapt and change so quickly. This latest variant of interest was identified about 6 months after the last big wave of infections caused by Delta, which still remains the dominant variant in the U.S.

Omicron is so concerning because of the number of mutations, according to a recent article by the New York Times. “Much remains unknown about Omicron, including whether it is more transmissible and capable of causing more serious illness. There is some evidence the variant can reinfect people more readily,” the article said. 

Though we don’t know much about it, an increase of cases in Africa points to the fact the Omicron variant is easily transmittable. The Omicron variant is the most mutated variant that has appeared from COVID-19, it has had at least 50 different mutations. That’s why it is more important than ever to get vaccinated and keep up with precautions to stay safe.