CDC: November 24, 2021: A new variant of SARS-CoV-2, B.1.1.529, was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). This new variant was first detected in specimens collected on November 11, 2021 in Botswana.
CDC has been collaborating with global public health and industry partners to learn about Omicron, as we continue to monitor its course. We don’t yet know how easily it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, or how well available vaccines and medications work against it.
The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
More data are needed to know if Omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.
Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.
Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work, (monoclonal antibody treatments or antiviral treatments) Based on the changed genetic make-up of Omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.
Watch for Symptoms
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms.
Vaccines/Natural Immunity: The first time the body encounters a germ, it can take several days to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to get over the infection. After the infection, the immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease.
The body keeps a few T-lymphocytes, called memory cells, that go into action quickly if the body encounters the same germ again. When the familiar antigens are detected, B-lymphocytes produce antibodies to attack them. Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection.
Vaccines, like any medication, can cause side effects.
The Herd Immunity Imperative
Vaccines don't just work on an individual level, they protect entire populations. Once enough people are immunized, opportunities for an outbreak of disease become so low even people who aren't immunized benefit. Essentially, a bacteria or virus simply won't have enough eligible hosts to establish a foothold and will eventually die out entirely. This phenomenon is called "herd immunity" or "community immunity," and it has allowed once-devastating diseases to be eliminated entirely, without needing to vaccinate every individual.
If you catch COVID-19, research suggests that the natural immunity you get from it makes another COVID infection unlikely for 90 days. Experts aren’t sure just how long that level of protection lasts, though. Getting fully vaccinated also gives you months of immunity -- without making you sick from the coronavirus. The vaccines are safe and effective. Even though they become less effective over time,
While scientists have seen that the vaccines will protect most people for the first few months after getting their second dose, they don’t have data on the long-term immunity these vaccines may provide. Although getting vaccinated is an important step in protecting people from COVID-19, it does not mean they can stop practicing precautions such as masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene.
Doctor Anthony Fauci thinks we will finally be able to stop wearing face masks by the summer 2022.
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