CLEVELAND — Concerns of the new COVID-19 variant -- omicron -- are crossing oceans.
“It seems to be spreading quickly,” says Claudia Hoyen, Director of Infection Control with Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
Discovered in South Africa, doctors are now working double time to catch up to speed on what this strain entails.
"We don't have a good sense if it's more serious when, you know, people are getting it,” Hoyen said while saying “it really seems it’s going to be just as contagious as delta, if not more.”
Cases have now been reported in Belgium, Israel, Hong Kong and countries across Europe. Initial testing revealing a deeper scope of the mutations in the new variant.
"Delta has 16 mutations, mostly in the spike area. This one has over 30 mutations in the spike area and another 20 in throughout the rest of the genome,” Hoyen said.
Hoyen said initial reports of how this was discovered started with PCR tests.
“They noticed something kind of different just in the output,” she explained. “They take them, and they'll send them for whole genomic sequencing.”
Whether or not the omicron variant causes breakthrough infections still lies in the unknown. Hoyen said these next few weeks will be very telling.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said you don’t want people to panic, but you want them to know that “we are doing everything we can to stay ahead of this.”