Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Questions and Answers with a Chicago Doctor – NBC Chicago

As concerns about the new “worrisome” variant of Omicron grow, doctors, scientists, and public health experts are working to understand everything from variant portability to vaccine effectiveness, detection of Omicron and more.

Dr. Rachel Rubin, Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health, helped clarify what is currently known about the COVID variant of Omicron and what questions remain unanswered.

Why is the Omicron variant so worrying?

It’s more worrying – for now – until we know more about it. There are more mutations associated with this variant, over 30 mutations on the spike protein alone (which binds the virus to the ACE-2 receptor in our cells and enables infection) compared to previous versions. (Delta variant has less than 10). We’ll learn more about the Omicron in the coming days and weeks, so we’ll know more shortly.

Does the variant have a higher contagiousness?

We won’t know for a couple of weeks. We know vaccines significantly reduce the risk of infection and transmission, and until we understand more about how Omicron interacts with current vaccines, we cannot answer this specific question with great confidence.

When can I test Omicron?

Immediately. State and federal agencies can perform sequencing immediately. In addition, PCR tests can show whether the virus is the Omicron variant.

Is Omicron currently in the US?

Probably, although we haven’t seen positive tests yet. We know it’s in Canada and when traveling worldwide it’s almost inevitable that it got here. While this variant may seem more contagious, we also have a better chance of containing it because we knew it early on, with only a few hundred cases.

When will we know if the current vaccines against Omicron are effective?

Probably within a couple of weeks. That timeframe will be able to tell us how many breakthrough cases there are while the lab tests are ongoing. We are encouraged to the extent that in South Africa most cases appear mild.

Should we panic with the variant, especially with the unknown?

It is advisable to be concerned and careful, but there is no need to panic. At least for the time being, there will be no bans or anything like that. The current fixes and recommendations should remain for the time being, and we ask everyone to follow them. It is especially important to stay masked and maintain physical distance indoors, unless only with your household.

Will there be new versions of the vaccines?

Similar to the flu vaccination, which is reformulated every year based on new versions of the flu, new versions of the COVID-19 vaccines are likely. The companies have stated that they can have new booster formulations within 100 days to cover variants including possibly Omicron.

What does this variant change?

You won’t see an immediate change in guidelines, but as people move around indoors in cold weather, we see changes in behavior, changes in work practices, and a real focus on common sense, science-based practices like wearing masks, frequent hand washing, and physical distancing .

How should vaccinated people deal with non-vaccinated people in view of the new variant?

If you are vaccinated, maintain masking and physical distancing, as well as all applicable practices. If you are not vaccinated we ask that you stay away. You are at a much higher risk of carrying and transmitting the virus. Until we get so little of the virus in our communities, the unvaccinated pose a really dangerous risk to themselves and the rest of us.

We also have to test better. If you’re traveling, get tested when you get home. If you are unvaccinated or plan to be with an unvaccinated person, take a test in the morning. We need more testing to get a more complete picture of how widespread the virus is and to keep each other safe.

Comments are closed.