The Omicron Variant
What is the omicron variant?
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. The Omicron variant is one such variant that arose from a mutation.
Does the omicron variant spread more easily?
The Omicron variant spreads more easily than earlier variants of the virus that cause COVID-19, including the Delta variant. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection, regardless of vaccination status or whether or not they have symptoms, can spread the virus to others.
Does the Omicron variant cause severe disease?
Omicron infection generally causes less severe disease than infection with prior variants. Preliminary data suggest that Omicron may cause more mild disease, although some people may still have severe disease, need hospitalization, and could die from the infection with this variant. Even if only a small percentage of people with Omicron infection need hospitalization, a large volume of cases in a community could overwhelm the healthcare system which is why it’s important to take steps to protect yourself.
What are the BA.5 and BA.4 Omicron variant?
BA.5 and BA.4 are subvariants of the original Omicron variant. These two subvariants have quickly become the dominant strand in the United States, making up over 70% of new Coronavirus cases as of July 5th, 2022.
Am I protected from Omicron and its subvariants if I am vaccinated?
Current vaccines protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are vaccinated can occur. People who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and get COVID-19 are less likely to develop serious illness than those who are unvaccinated and get COVID-19.
Recently, the FDA advisory committee voted in favor of including a SARS-CoV-2 omicron component in COVID-19 vaccines that would be used for boosters in the U.S. beginning in fall 2022.
Information about variants is constantly evolving and information is accurate to the time it was updated.