Omicron variant and how it impacts you in Alabama

Alabama News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The World Health Organization is warning the global risk of the newest COVID-19 variant, omicron, is very high and could lead to surges with severe consequences.

As a growing list of countries worldwide are reporting omicron variant cases, the U.S., Europe and other nations are restricting travel to visitors from South Africa and across the region.

Citing omicron, the CDC is strengthening its recommendation on booster shots, now saying all eligible adults should get one.

UAB’s infectious diseases Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo said only five variants have been designated as areas of concern by the WHO. Marrazzo said it’s still not time to let our guard down yet when it comes to the pandemic.

“I hoped not to be doing this again but here we are,” Marrazzo said.

According to Marrazzo, researchers are testing antibodies created by the vaccine to see if it can help stop the spread of this latest variant.

“If that happens that’s very, very reassuring,” she said. “That may mean that we just need to keep doing what we’re doing and we need to do it stronger and better.”

Marrazzo said the earliest we could know is eight to 10 days, so stay alert for now.

Dr. Wes Stubblefield from the Alabama Department of Public Health said there is still not enough information to press the panic button.

“There are concerns because of the way the mutations are, they could make it more transmissible and potentially less of a target for antibodies whether produced by our own bodies or the vaccine,” Stubblefield said.

According to Stubblefield, the Delta variant is still to blame for 99 percent of cases right now.

“We have to learn to live with COVID as opposed to eliminate it – have to learn to deal with consequences of it, best way to do that is through vaccinating and getting protection built up in community,” Dr. Wesley Willeford said from the Jefferson County Department of Health.

Doctors in Alabama say it’s important to keep layering techniques of safety precautions that we have been practicing for over 20 months as the health experts continue to monitor the situation.

“There are a lot of very dedicated people at this department who are watching this every day,” Stubblefield said.

The state will be doing a minor software update to detect the new variant in its lab.

There are still no cases in the U.S. or Alabama yet, but they are expected to be here soon.

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