Over five countries have now seen the Omicron variant. The response is numerous travel bans being put into place.
The World Health Organization announced Nov. 26 that the new strain is a variant of concern two days after is was identified.
The large amount of mutations are raising concern for experts.
Early evidence is supporting the idea that it’s possible there’s a risk of reinfection with this variant. While that has happened before, the risk appears greater with this strain than others.
Most cases in South Africa that are being reported appear to be this variant.
A variant is labeled a variant of concern when there’s an increase in transmissibility, a change in how it presents itself, or a decrease in public safety measures like vaccines.
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The CDC has not yet labeled the variant with their own classification system.
Everything we know about Omicron
It is believed that the variant began in South Africa and targets young, unvaccinated individuals.
The level of infection among the vaccinated is not currently known.
Countries in President Joe Biden’s travel ban include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Omicron has been confirmed to be in South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Australia, Scotland, and Canada.
Information on the effectiveness of Moderna and Pfizer against this new strain will have its data released in mid December. Both are currently conducting studies to figure that out.
The White house said it will take about two more weeks to learn more about transmissibility, severity, and other characteristics of the variant.
Beginning Monday, Nov. 29 President Biden announced travel bans to the following countries
- South Africa
Other countries with travel bans include
- the Czech Republic
- the Netherlands
- the Philippines
- Saudi Arabia
- Sri Lanka