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WAITING and HOPING

While we wait, scientists around the world are studying the omicron variant in many different ways.   One lab in Texas created a "spike protein look alike" with most of the new mutations so they can begin to study the effect of antibodies against the variant.  Other labs started the preliminary work toward a variant-specific vaccine booster.  Earlier in the pandemic labs were developing vaccines against specific alpha, beta, and delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 as they were discovered just so they would be ready to go if another variant was less controlled by our current vaccines. 

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE OMICRON VARIANT?  

Transmission: it may be more transmissible. There is clear evidence of community spread.

Severity: probably not as severe as Delta, based on the cases seen so far.  A better indicator is the number of hospitalizations and it may be too early to assess now with the recent cases.

Immune escape:  unknown, but one of the monoclonal antibodies (Sotrovimab) was reported to have activity against omicron and the previous variants. 

But it is still too early to have hundreds of pieces of data, from the laboratories and from real world observations, testing, and genomic sequencing. I will try to cover the observations in these Blog posts/Facebook entries as they are reported over the next few weeks.  See Below

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Barney Graham, a key architect of the coronavirus vaccines, recently retired from NIH.  This week, in an article from The Washington Post he said "because viruses adapt and they change, and unless we develop generalized global immunity more readily, we will always be chasing our tail."  While we wait for more omicron data, protect your family by getting vaccinated and boosted.  Remember that two doses of the mRNA vaccines are necessary to establish immunity against severe disease and death. And this AM there was a brief news report from Pfizer that the booster dose is essential and effective.  More later.

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