Appearance of the omicron variant
On November 24, 2021, a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 , B.1.1.529, was notified to the World Health Organization (WHO). This new variant was first detected in samples collected on November 11, 2021 in Botswana and on November 14, 2021 in South Africa.
On November 26, 2021, the WHO named the omicron variant B.1.1.529 and classified it as a variant of concern (VOC). On November 30, 2021, the United States designated the omicron variant as a variant of concern , and on December 1, 2021, the first confirmed US case of the omicron variant was identified.
CDC has collaborated with public health and industry partners globally to obtain information about the omicron variant, as we continue to monitor its course. CDC has used genomic surveillance throughout the pandemic to track variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and to suggest public health practice. We still do not know how easily it spreads, the severity of the cases, or the effectiveness of the vaccines and drugs available to combat it.
Beyond the great attention that the omicron variant receives, the delta variant continues to be the main variant that is circulating in the United States.
Where the omicron variant has been detected in the United States
CDC is working with state and local public health officials to monitor the spread of the omicron variant. This map shows the states that detected at least one case of COVID-19 due to the omicron variant. The omicron variant will be included in the variant surveillance data in the CDC ‘s COVID-19 Data Tracking Tool when it can be reliably estimated at a low frequency.
What we know about the omicron variant
Infection and spread
How easily does the omicron variant spread? The omicron variant is likely to spread more easily than the parent SARS-CoV-2 virus; The ease with which the omicron variant spreads compared to the delta variant is still unknown. The CDC hopes that anyone infected with the omicron variant virus can spread the virus to other people, even if they are vaccinated or have no symptoms.
Can you get more seriously ill from the omicron variant? More data is needed to know if infections with the omicron variant, and especially cases of reinfection and infection in vaccinated people, cause more severe disease or more cases of death than infections with other variants.
Will vaccines against the omicron variant work? Current vaccines are expected to protect against serious cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from omicron variant infection. However, it is possible that cases of infection occur in vaccinated people in people who are fully vaccinated. Against other variants, such as delta, the vaccines remained effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. The recent appearance of the omicron variant further highlighted the importance of vaccination and booster doses.
Will the treatments against the omicron variant work? Scientists are working to determine the effectiveness of current treatments for COVID-19. Based on the change in omicron’s genetic makeup, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others are less effective.
We have the tools to combat the omicron variant
Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people against COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of infection by new emerging variants. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Scientists are currently investigating the omicron variant, including the level of protection of fully vaccinated people against infection, hospitalization, and death. The CDC recommends that everyone 5 years of age and older should be fully vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19. The CDC recommends that everyone 18 years of age and older receive a booster dose at least two months after the initial J & J / Janssen vaccine or six months after completing the primary COVID-19 vaccination schedule with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
The masks offer protection against all variants. CDC continues to recommend mask use in closed public settings in substantial or high community transmission areas, regardless of vaccination status. CDC offers mask advice for people who want more information on the right type of mask for the circumstances.
The tests can tell you if you are currently infected with COVID-19. Two types of tests are used to detect a current infection: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests. NAAT and antigen tests can only detect if you currently have an infection. People can use the COVID-19 Viral Testing Tool to determine what type of test to use. Additional tests would be needed to determine if your infection was caused by the omicron variant. Visit the website of your state, tribal, local, or territorial health department to find the latest information on screening tests.
Home screenings allow you to get tested at home or elsewhere, are easy to use, and results are fast. If the home test is positive, stay home or isolate yourself for 10 days, wear a mask if you have contact with someone else, and call your healthcare provider. If you have questions about the result of a home test, call your healthcare provider or public health department.
Until we know more about the risk of the omicron variant, it is important to use all available tools to protect yourself and others.
What the CDC is doing to learn more about the omicron variant
Characteristics of the virus
CDC scientists are working with partners to collect data and samples of the virus that can be studied to answer important questions about the omicron variant. Scientific experiments are already underway. CDC will provide updates as soon as possible.
In the United States, CDC uses genomic surveillance to track variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to more quickly identify these results and act accordingly to protect the disease. public health. CDC implemented several ways to connect and share genomic sequence data produced by CDC, public health laboratories, and commercial diagnostic laboratories through publicly accessible databases maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI ) and the Global Avian Influenza Data Sharing Initiative (GISAID). If a variant is circulating at 0.1% frequency, there is a> 99% chance that it will be detected in CDC’s national genomic surveillance.