5 things to know about the omicron variant

Photo of Chris Carr

The newest COVID-19 variant made its entrance onto the global stage over the Thanksgiving holiday.

On Monday, President Joe Biden addressed the country to update information on the omicron variant after meeting with his COVID-19 team.

“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” Biden said. “We will fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion.”

The president then went on to address information on protection against the variant. Here are points of interest that he covered that are also supported by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1. There is still much unknown about the variant

The variant is currently being studied and not much is known about it yet. Doctors and medical organizations are still recommending the same precautions to be taken as with the other variants of COVID-19. According to the WHO, it is still unclear whether the omicron variant is more transmissible or severe than more widespread forms of the virus.

2. Best protection is the vaccine and the booster

"A fully vaccinated booster person is the most protected against COVID," Biden said.

The WHO and the CDC are recommending that everyone aged 5 and older be fully vaccinated against the virus. While it is unclear how much the vaccine will protect against this new variant, it is still recommended for use against the current dominant delta variant.

3. Wear a mask

The WHO and the CDC both are recommending masks to prevent the spread of the virus. These masking recommendations are for everyone, not just the unvaccinated.

4. No current reason to suggest that omicron could be worse than other variants

As omicron is making its way around the globe, there have been no reasons to suggest different symptoms. According to the WHO, there is currently no reason to suggest that there are any different or more severe symptoms from omicron than from other variants we've already seen.

5. Possibility of increased risk of re-infection with omicron

According to the WHO, those who have previously had COVID-19 could be more susceptible to the omicron variant than they were to other variants. With studying of the variant still underway, information is currently limited. To prevent re-infection, the WHO and CDC recommend practicing masking and social distancing.