The new Omicron variant is a pandemic gut check
The emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant feels like a pandemic gut check. Scientists have known that the world would see emerging coronavirus variants. South Africa's announcement of the discovery of the B.1.1.529 variant was a reminder that the pandemic is not over.
The new travel restrictions announced by President Joe Biden on Friday will buy the US federal government more time to investigate the new Omicron variant that has emerged in South Africa. It is inevitable that the new variant will appear in the US at some point. The new restrictions should give federal health agencies and their global counterparts more time to learn about the variant, including the severity of the disease it causes.
Officials acted quickly to implement new restrictions. While the emergence of the variant had been flagged in the last several weeks, it was only in recent days that they learned how serious it was.
As scientists work quickly to learn more about the variant, global health officials are urging people to wear masks, avoid crowded places and get vaccinated if they haven't already. Omicron is another real example of how Covid-19 is here to stay.
Scientists at BioNTech have already started investigating the impact the Omicron variant has on its vaccine developed with Pfizer, with data expected within the next couple of weeks.
Moderna announced that it is working to test the ability of its current vaccine dose against the Omicron variant and data is expected in the coming weeks. If the current vaccine and booster shot are insufficient against the variant, a possible solution is boosting people with a larger dose. Moderna is also evaluating an Omicron-specific booster candidate.
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