Dr. Peter Hotez: Too soon to panic over Omicron variant

Researchers are involved “omicron” could also be extra transmissible and have mutations that make vaccines much less efficient.

HOUSTON — A brand new COVID-19 variant dubbed omicron by the World Health Organization has sparked a brand new wave of considerations. Health officers say there’s a surge of instances in South Africa.

Cases have additionally been reported in Israel, Belgium, Hong Kong and different African international locations. 

Dr. Peter Hotez, an professional with the Baylor College of Medicine, would not assume this new variant is something to panic about but.

“I have not seen strong evidence that it’s more transmissible than delta. The UK government says it might be, and it might be,” Dr. Hotez stated.

In addition to doubtlessly being extra transmissible, the opposite concern is Omicron has mutations that will make vaccines much less efficient. Dr. Hotez stated that’s a problem seen with different variants earlier than.

“We had “beta” out of South Africa. It by no means actually took off. We had “lambda” out of South America. It by no means took off. This might not take off. The key’s realizing its transmissibility,” Dr. Hotez stated. “Worst case scenario, studies show it is much more transmissible than delta and has high immune escape potential, then we have to go to Plan B and start designing boosters, but I think we’re a long way away from that yet.”

The U.S. and different international locations have introduced journey restrictions to attempt to forestall the variant from coming right here.

While well being officers are maintaining a detailed eye on omicron, Dr. Hotez says the delta variant remains to be a really actual concern. He expects it to trigger one other surge of instances in Texas this winter.

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