RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As researchers learn more about the omicron variant, the CDC will be able to answer more questions about the mutation.
So far, data is limited but the CDC has tried to answer a few of the top questions asked about the new strain.
Will vaccines work against omicron?
Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the omicron variant, according to the CDC.
Dr. David Wohl from UNC School of Medicine said it’s too early to tell.
“I will say in previous concerns about variants, higher levels of antibody provided better protection even against variants that had some diminished variant protection as far as the vaccines are concerned. So, higher antibody levels, that’s why we do boosting helped protect against delta, even though the vaccines were developed for ancestral strain that was very different than delta,” he said.
How easily does omicron spread?
The CDC said the omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original virus strain. How it differs from the delta remains unknown. The delta variant has thus far been the most transmissible causing as many as two times more infections per person, according to CDC data.
Will omicron cause more severe illness?
The CDC said they are waiting on more data to know if omicron infections cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.
They’re especially interested to know if the impact on breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated.
Currently fully vaccinated people who acquire COVID-19 tend to have less severe symptoms than in unvaccinated people. They are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than the unvaccinated.
Will treatments work against omicron?
Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Based on the changed genetic make-up of omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.
The FDA is still reviewing Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment pill. The company they believed their pill would be effective against the Omicron variant as well. Regeneron however, who has a the treatment REGEN-COV in use, said last month that their treatment may be less effective against the variant.