After the first few stages of the Covid-19 pandemic had finally passed, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson hurriedly developed vaccines for the public's use. Mayfair freshman Natalie Navaro expressed that, “With the vaccine I feel kinda like safer when I like go out to the mall and stuff.” With these new vaccines that came out not long ago, many have felt more confident in going out and continuing their daily activities without any worries. However, on November 26, an unprecedented variant of SARS-CoV-2 was discovered to have emerged. It was first unearthed on November 11 in Botswana, South Africa. It was then named “Omicron” by the World Health Organization (WHO) and was labeled as a Variant Of Concern (VOC). As swiftly as Omicron emerged, it has also spread to multiple parts of the U.S. such as the states: CA- Dec 1, MN- Dec 2, CO- Dec 2, NY- Dec 2, HI- Dec 2, NE- Dec 3, MD- Dec 3, PA- Dec 3, NJ- Dec 3, UT- Dec 3, MO- Dec 3, LA- Dec 3, MA- Dec 4, WA- Dec 4, CT- Dec 4, WI- Dec 4, GA- Dec 5, MS- Dec 6, TX- Dec 6, IL- Dec 7, FL- Dec 7, AZ- Dec 7, IA- Dec 8, MI- Dec 9, VA- Dec 9, NC- Dec 9, ID- Dec 10, OH- Dec 11, TN- Dec 11, RI- Dec 11, NM- Dec 13, and WV- Dec 16 as of now.
The Omicron variant is suspected to spread easily compared to the original COVID-19 variant, even among those who are vaccinated and show no symptoms. This new variant is known for being contagious and shows similar symptoms to that of a common cold. Because of this, it is recommended to get tested even if one thinks it could be a simple cold or morning allergies. Long-term symptoms for this new variant may include irregular heartbeat, and severe fatigue. The “life-saving vaccine” is said to be of somewhat help against this variant, even so, it is not guaranteed to actually prevent deaths or hospitalization. As of January 17, 2022 there have been 855,149 new cases and 1,127 deaths. Freshman Ethan Volkoff said, “I thought the vaccine would provide kinda like full coverage even against new variants of COVID-19.” In relation to that, the CDC says that the variant is currently being worked on by a group of scientists trying to develop effective treatments against Omicron, and have collected virus samples to study and experiment on. So far, studies have shown that Omicron’s effect on people is mild compared to the original strand.