Preliminary evidence suggests new Covid variant B.1.1.529 carries higher risk of reinfection than other variants, World Health Organization


*Omicron* Known—B.1.1.529 Greek alphabet name with over 50 mutations.
Omicron originated in South Africa and Botswana and cases have been recorded among travelers in Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel.
The ACE2 receptor, which allows the virus to bind to our cells, has over 10 mutations according to scientists in S Africa.
Some of the characteristics of the variant are reminiscent of Beta and Lambda, two variants that became concerning, but ultimately haven’t been able to compete with Delta.
The mRNA vaccines are built on a platform which allow for very rapid development of new vaccines to tackle emerging variants should they be of major concern.
Both Pfizer & Moderna estimate 100 days to develop a vaccine for a new variant.

Manufacturing, approvals & distribution take time but we are getting more efficient at all. If we start in early December, new vaccines could be available by summer in much of the world.
Banning travel hasn’t seemed to be anything close to a panacea. And it punishes countries and their economies who make and report discoveries.
There’s an ugly irony as well.
Part of all of us go into hyperdrive when we see certain words— new variant, evade immunity, travel ban. These are learned responses.

But there have also been many false alarms, assumptions made, panic, and over-reactions.
What seems clear is that vaccinating the globe & pockets of the US that are still unvaccinated remain the priority.

And masks, portable air filters, staying outdoors, and other tools remain our friends should cases rise.