Scientists on the lookout for first case of Omicron COVID-19 variant in United States

The U.S. has yet to see its first case of the Omicron variant, but it has raised major concerns throughout the country.

The variant was first seen in South Africa this week. The World Health Organization said it was spreading rapidly throughout the country.

The variant, officially known as B.1.1.529, has also been spotted in Belgium, Israel, and Hong Kong.

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What to know about the Omicron Variant so far

Due to the rise in concern for what this variant could possibly do, the U.S. has restricted flights to eight African countries out of precaution.

The mutations within this variant raise concern for experts. Many are worried about what this may mean for the pandemic. Strains have been monitored throughout the entire pandemic. The biggest reason is to see if any can evade the vaccine.

The Delta variant has already shown it can still infect those who are vaccinated.

Related: New COVID Variant, B.1.1.529, could be the most dangerous yet as it spreads to Israel


Experts say Omicron has the potential to re-infect people. More studies need to be done to see what these mutations are really capable of.

Efrem Lim, an assistant professor at the Arizona State University Biodesign Institute and a virologist focusing on genomes of COVID-19, states there are almost 30 mutations in Omicron. Variants of Delta typically only had 5 to 10 mutations, according to Arizona Central.

The restrictions on travel to certain countries may be enough time for scientists to learn more about the variant. The large amount of international travel in the U.S. is a cause for concern.

The focus will be on changes in transmissibility, clinical presentation and ability to evade immunity.

Related: COVID-19: Newest variant B.1.X, also known as B.1.640 discovered


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