Omicron Variant: Same Virus, Different Antigens


Nevin Wise, Co-Editor-In-Chief

With winter bearing down on us, we cannot be negligent to the status of Covid-19. We all know that family gatherings have been put into the spotlight with the possibility of transmitting Covid-19, but this article is not going to discuss that. Instead, I am going to discuss the most recent news on Covid-19: the Omicron variant. 

This variant is not native to our nation but has quickly become accustomed to it. A traveler was returning home from a trip to South Africa. While there, they contracted the omicron variant and carried it along with them on their trip back to San Francisco. Since then, more states have contracted the virus including Maryland, Utah, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Nebraska. 

As of now, the World Health Organization (WHO) has limited information on the deviant. In fact, they state that “it is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible” and that “it is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.” This uncertainty, though, is not to last long as preliminary research is being conducted on these topics. Moreover, WHO provides insight on the effectiveness of vaccinations against the Omicron variant. They find that vaccines do help combat the variant, but they are continuing to find more effective ways to combat the virus. Regardless of receiving the vaccine or not, those who have contracted Covid stand a higher chance of contracting the variant as well. At the end of their analysis, they advise countries to continue Covid-19 regulations and promote vaccinations. 

Taking this to heart, Joe Biden has spoken about his plan to combat the deviant, stating that his response to Covid-19 will be accompanied “not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more.” 

Though it is scary, variants to viruses are not uncommon; that is why flu shots are recommended every year. These viruses mutate, producing different antigens that cannot be initially detected by one’s white blood cells. With that being said, one should not fear the variations of the virus as procedures and in place and are continuing to be evolved to better combat the pandemic. So, have a great holiday, spend time with your family, make cookies with your grandma; just be careful and be active in defense mechanisms against the virus.