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The Omicron Chronicles

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Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

What’s that wriggling down the chimney? Why, it’s a brand-new COVID variant! The Omicron variant was first detected in California this past week, but despite the headlines, there’s little indication that there’s any reason to be overly concerned, at least for those of us who are vaccinated. Truth be told, there hasn’t been enough time to say anything definitive about the Omicron variant, other than that it’s new, it has a slightly scary name, and it hasn’t done anything terribly noteworthy yet. So, go ahead and relax.

There’s almost 60% of the planet left to vaccinate.

While Omicron has yet to assert itself as a discernibly dangerous mutation, it’s important to remember that there’s almost 60% of the planet left to vaccinate: any iteration of COVID is not only dangerous on its own but because of what it could mutate into, given enough time and potential victims. While it’s not expected that the Omicron variant will be as easily transmissible as the Delta variant, it’s doing some other interesting things that might help us prepare for what may yet come to pass.

To begin with, the WHO has found the omicron variant potentially more likely to reinfect individuals who have already had another variant of COVID-19, making it potentially more of a threat to those who have earned natural immunity against the virus. Though this is obviously more dangerous for the unvaccinated, breakthrough cases remain an inevitability, and recurring cases could have a terrifying impact for the many countries around the world where vaccines remain difficult to come by.

There’s little about the omicron variant that requires an adjustment on the vaccine side of things.

According to data from Pfizer, there’s little about the omicron variant that requires an adjustment on the vaccine side of things, but they are allegedly preparing Omicron-specific vaccines, just in case it manages to step up and eclipse the Delta variant somehow. Furthermore, while current vaccines remain effective against this mutation, they aren’t quite as effective without the now-available booster shot. While it’s a small drop in efficacy, it could be a sign that further adjustments might be made available via boosters. If this trend continues into the rest of the Greek alphabet and our foreseeable future, we may be in for a few more updates to our immune systems as we close in on a potential endgame with the pandemic.

If you’re hesitant about the booster, for whatever reason, take this Omicron situation as an incentive to go ahead and go for it. Vaccines and boosters are available locally at Sohum Health’s Sprowl Creek building on Thursdays, at the Public Health offices in Garberville on Wednesdays, and at Redwoods Rural by appointment. Have a warm and safe holiday, take good care of your people, and stay safe.

Galen Lastko, submitted on behalf of the SoHum Health’s Outreach department.