There’s a new variant in town. Omicron. And there’s been at least one case detected in the United States. What can we do to prevent this from spreading around our country before we know the impacts of it?
First, more international traveling restrictions. This variant reportedly originated in South Africa, and was detected in Amsterdam a week before last Friday. This variant originated outside the US, and the best way to contain it is to not let it in. This could come from increased screening and testing for Covid before US bound flights, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it plans to do. One step in the right direction. A more dramatic way this could be accomplished is to close off flights to the US. Yes dramatic, but it could solve the issue of containing the virus. If there are only a few cases that crept into the US, the government can do a higher level of contact tracing and then limit the exposure of the variant from the carriers. If we can limit the exposure to only a small group of people this will lower the chances of others creating a domino effect of exposure.
There is a theory that Omicron may actually be beneficial. It requires getting vaccinated as well. Vaccines may end up limiting the severity of the disease, the Wall Street Journal reports. If so, a fast travelling disease with mild symptoms will dominate a not as easily transmissible and more dangerous disease, Samuel Scarpino, of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute reports. This would be a dream come true. If the vaccines fight off the mild symptoms of Omicron then it will hold power over Delta, therefore limiting the spread of Delta and saving thousands of lives that would otherwise be exposed to the Delta variant. In short, getting vaccinated is the second way to fend off this variant from causing more harm, and potentially not only saving your life but others as well.
Third, wear your mask! As we near two years of the pandemic this should be self-explanatory. Wearing your mask decreases the likelihood of the disease spreading. We need a last case scenario if the previous two courses of action don’t work, wearing your mask in the proper fashion will contain the virus and lessen the impacts it has on our society.
We’ll find out more about this variant in the coming weeks, but in the meantime doing everything within your personal capabilities to keep yourself and others safe is the best course of action.