HEALTH

Researchers believe ‘omicron’ variant will be in Utah, sooner or later

Nov 26, 2021, 6:40 PM | Updated: Nov 28, 2021, 3:55 pm
utah covid children...
Kimberly Desmond, a registered nurse, draws a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at Rose Park Elementary in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – Health officials in Utah say they’re keeping a close eye on the new COVID variant (omicron variant) coming out of South Africa, but how worried should we be in the Beehive State?  Researchers say it’s likely going to come to Utah, the real question is “when?”

Omicron variant

Officials with the World Health Organization are classifying the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus in the same category as the highly contagious delta variant. And they believe the newest form of the virus is highly transmissible.  However, University of Utah Virologist Stephen Goldstein says scientists still have a lot of questions about omicron, especially since it’s so new.  For instance, they don’t know if the new variant is deadlier than the others.

“We don’t know anything about whether it causes more severe or less severe disease,” Goldstein said. ” There are early indications that it may be highly transmissible, although, it really is still too early to say.”

Goldstein says omicron is not an offshoot of the delta variant, so researchers are trying to learn as much as they can.  He believes the variant will, eventually, make its way to Utah, however, no one knows when. 

Should we cancel our Christmas plans?  Perhaps, not yet, although doctors still recommend masks, limiting crowd sizes and social distancing to limit any kind of viral spread.

“The travel restrictions that are being put in place may slow it down, a little.  I think Christmas is soon enough that I don’t think this variant is likely to have a huge impact on Christmas,” Goldstein said.

Current vaccines should provide ‘some protection’

Another question… will the current vaccines provide significant protection against the omicron variant?  Goldstein says it’s too soon to know that, also.  However, vaccines have been shown to decrease the severity of the illness, even if someone becomes infected.

“Getting a third dose of the vaccine is likely to provide an additional level of protection,” Goldstein said.  “So, this is a really good time, with Christmas in about a month, to go get a booster if you haven’t yet.  Or, start your vaccination series, if you haven’t done that.”

Vaccine manufacturers appear to be wasting no time in researching this new variant.  Goldstein says research began the very day news of omicron came out.

Goldstein said, “The companies that make vaccines are already starting to develop vaccines specifically against this variant.  We can expect to learn much more about this variant in the next week, or two.”

 

Related articles

World races to contain new COVID threat, the omicron variant

New COVID omicron variant triggers travel bans

Stocks sink on new COVID variant, Dow loses 905 points

 

Health

Dogs and cats cannot get the avian flu...
Aimee Cobabe

Avian flu in Utah causes worry in pet owners

A Utah veterinarian explained there is no reason to worry about your cats or dogs getting the avian flu. He encouraged pet vaccinations.
2 months ago
FILE: A Boeing 737-932ER operated by Delta Airlines takes off from JFK Airport on August 24, 2019 i...
Pete Muntean, CNN

Three US airlines extend olive branch to passengers banned for mask violations

The move comes after two dizzying days of rulings and countermoves on the federal mask mandate for public transportation.
2 months ago
Mask mandate...
MICHAEL BALSAMO and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press

Justice Dept. to appeal order voiding travel mask mandate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is filing an appeal seeking to overturn a judge’s order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and in travel hubs, officials said Wednesday. The notice came minutes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked the Justice Department to appeal the decision handed down […]
2 months ago
Utah national parks no longer have a mask mandate...
Chandler Holt

Masks no longer required in national parks

Since a federal judge struck down the CDC's transportation mask mandate, guests in national parks can choose if they'd like to wear a mask or not.
2 months ago
New eligibility rules for pandemic-EBT program...
Waverly Golden

New eligibility guidelines for Pandemic-EBT

Utah households will have to apply for free or reduced-price meal benefits with their local school by May 6 to possibly receive Pandemic-EBT.
2 months ago
Intermountain Healthcare facilities upgrade landscaping...
Waverly Golden

Intermountain Healthcare landscaping gets a new look

Landscaping at Intermountain Healthcare facilities is getting a new look to help save water as Utah still experiences a bad drought.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Prescription opioid...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Researchers believe ‘omicron’ variant will be in Utah, sooner or later