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The emergence of Omicron

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Viruses are constantly changing, and this includes SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These genetic variations occur over time and can lead to the emergence of new variants that may have different characteristics.

The SARS-CoV-2 genome encodes instructions organized into sections, called genes, to build the virus. Scientists use a process called genomic sequencing to decode the genes and learn more about the virus. Genomic sequencing allows scientists to identify SARS-CoV-2 and monitor how it changes over time into new variants, understand how these changes affect the characteristics of the virus, and use this information to better understand how it might impact health.

Currently, due to genenomic surveillance, the dominant circulating variant of COVID -19 is Omicrone. Omicrone is estimated to be causing 95% of all cases in the United States. After watching this varient’s behavior, scientist have
determined that it is more easily transmissible. Currently, the only defense against the virus making a person seriously ill are the vaccines. Finally, public health community believes that continuing to wear a mask with protect against
primary infection and reinfection.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with
these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

 


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Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is an American viral immunologist. She is an Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Shutzer Assistant

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