Omicron Variant: What does it mean for Central Louisiana?

A new "Omicron" variant of COVID-19 has been detected in nearly 20 countries around the world.
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 5:06 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The new Omicron COVID variant has now been detected in nearly twenty countries around the world. Although the new variant has been detected in Canada, there are no confirmed cases in the United States yet.

The variant originated in South Africa and health officials are reporting that the Omicron variant could potentially spread as fast, or faster, than the Delta variant, but it’s currently not known if Omicron is as harmful as the Delta variant.

During a press conference, President Joe Biden said that “the new variant is cause for concern, not cause for panic.”

As of right now, there have been no deaths associated with the Omicron variant, but Region Six office of Public Health Director Dr. David Holcombe said that is likely due to the Omicron cases having a small sample size, and most of the cases have been in young people.

”Africa by and large has a very young population, and all of the variants have been more deadly in older people than young people. So, it’s hard to draw some conclusions from South Africa that has an almost 50% young population,” said Dr. Holcombe.

Although the Omicron variant has not yet been detected in the United States, Dr. Holcombe said it’s only a matter of time before it appears, including in Central Louisiana.

“Omicron will be here, and right now 95%, or even higher, of all cases that are in Louisiana that are actually sequenced are Delta. What you’re going to see, if it is more transmissible, is a gradual replace of Delta with the Omicron.”

Whether the vaccine works against the Omicron variant is largely unknown at this time, just like when the Delta variant swept Central Louisiana, but Dr. Holcombe said being vaccinated is still certainly better than nothing.

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