Is Omicron so ludicrous like 2020? Here's why it shouldn't?
A new SARS-CoV-2 virus variant is rattling the globe, causing and some as scientists prepare to figure out how deadly the new strain, called Omicron, might be.
The World Health Organization on Monday warned of Omicron's "very high" risk, as a slew of concerns about its transmissibility and severity remain mystery. Health experts are cautioning against panic until the scientific community discovers more about those concerns, as well as whether the variant evades the immune response from existing vaccinations or a prior COVID-19 infection.
Given the uncertainty, it might feel like the spring of 2020 all over again. (Remember the first time you heard the words social distancing?)
But there are some reasons why the pandemic landscape today is so different: people have been through COVID surges before, from doctors to public health officials to employers, and the general public (most of them, anyway) is aware of how to wear a mask.
Here's a breakdown of what has changed.
People have access to numerous COVID-19 vaccinations this summer, which have been shown to provide protection against severe diseases. Over the summer, the three US vaccine manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna have discovered encouraging information about their ability to protect individuals.
On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, stated that people should not be engulfed out over Omicron, and he called the nation to do "the things we know work, which include being vaccinated or receiving a booster shot.
Public health officials know more about how to address the virus's spread than they did last year. Even if Omicron is more transmissible than other COVID-19 strains, local authorities should be better equipped to respond in a manner that may not require.
During a press conference on Monday, President Joe Biden stated, If people are vaccinated and wearing their mask, there is no need for a lockdown.
Despite this, there is a concern that the Omicron variant, which contains more than 30 mutations in the spike protein, may escape the current vaccinations' immune protection as well as prior infection. Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said during CNBC's Squawk Box that he anticipates a shut of vaccination efficacy to prevent disease.
All three US vaccine producers Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna stated that their vaccinations adequately protect against the variant, although they may wait a few weeks to get that data in hand.
In the meanwhile, some drugmakers are speeding up the development of Omicron-specific vaccine candidates. It's unclear if modified vaccines are needed, but both have predicted they'll be available by early next year.
That's a far quicker timeline than the campaign to obtain the first COVID-19 vaccinations approved last year. The US Food and Drug Administration has stated that booster doses will be pushed along long clinical trails in order to speed up their development and ability to target emerging variants.
According to chief executive Albert Bourla, a promising COVID-19 treatment pill from Pfizer may be effective against the Omicron variant.
"So that gives me a high degree of confidence that the treatment will not be affected," Bourla stated on Monday. "So that gives me a high level of confidence that the treatment will not be affected."
Paxloid, a pill that has yet to be approved for emergency use by the FDA. Preliminary clinical trials have shown it can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by approximately 90% during treatment near the start of symptoms.
Recent studies on the competing COVID-19 pill from Merck show that the treatment may not function as well as previously anticipated. It has a 30% chance of warding off mild to moderate disease. The firm has not disclosed its effectiveness against the Omicron variant.
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