On Wednesday, the first confirmed case of the so-called “omicron”(B.1.1.529) strain of COVID-19 hit the United States. The one infected with the new Omicron COVID variant was a fully vaccinated Californian individual who was returning home from South Africa.
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It is an unnamed person with “mild symptoms that are improving” according to a statement from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It is believed that the infection has not been transmitted to other individuals as the patient self quarantined and all of the patients close contacts having tested negative.
The press announcement stated that the emergence of this variant “further emphasizes the importance of vaccination” for all persons over 5 years old and encourages all persons over 18 years old to take the booster shots.
But the White House COVID czar, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in a separate speech admitted that the man had been “fully vaccinated”, but had not taken a booster dose yet.
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It is unknown at this time how long ago was the individual vaccinated. Whatever amount of protection the COVID vaccines offer dissipates after a mere six months (or less, depending on the vaccine), which has seen an increase in the governments push for booster shots.
According to the Botswana government Presidential (COVID-19) Task force press release, even the first four Omicron cases in South Africa were all fully vaccinated individuals.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says Omicron variant can spread faster than the other strains, but experts believe increased fear is unsubstantiated.
“The virus is behaving just how viruses behave,” says Dr. Paul Elias Alexander, former Trump administration COVID adviser and assistant professor at McMaster University in evidence-based medicine and research methods.
“They are mutable and mutate and, via Muller’s ratchet, we expect this to be milder and milder mutations and not more lethal ones given the pathogen seeks to infect the host and not arrive at an evolutionary dead-end.”
It is unknown at this time how the vaccine will do against the new variant Omicron as a body of data suggests that the strategy of mass vaccination has failed its purpose of defeating the already existing strains of COVID.
Contrary to what we’re told the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus results in only mild disease, without prominent symptoms, according to Angelique Coetzee, the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association.
“It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well. So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home”, Coetzee said.
According to top Russian virologist the Omicron variant could actually help bring the pandemic to an end.
In an interview published on Monday in Moscow tabloid KP, Anatoly Altshtein, a virologist at the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, which pioneered Russia’s Sputnik V jab, said that it is still not clear how deadly or infectious the new Omicron variant might be.
Explaining the science behind the hypothesis, Altshtein said that “we already see Omicron has many mutations, more than Delta. More than thirty in a single gene of its spike protein. This is too many, and it means the virus has an unstable genome.
As a rule, this sort of infectious agent becomes less dangerous, because evolutionarily, an overwhelming number of mutations leads to a weakening of the virus’s ability to cause disease.”