The Omicron variant should be taken seriously, but it is not yet known whether it will surpass the Delta variant in the United States, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes for Health, to CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Newsroom Monday.
“What we do know, it has a lot of mutations, more than 50, that’s a new record,” Collins said when asked about what is currently known about the Omicron variant. “Some of them we’ve seen before and some we haven’t. So this certainly suggests that this is a new kind of virus that we should take very seriously.
“We’re concerned that if the spike protein is a different shape, the antibodies might not stick as well,” he said. “That’s the reason for the concern.”
Collins made it clear that all the previous variants – all of which had differences in the spike protein – responded to vaccines and boosters.
“That’s a very important message that I want everyone to hear now,” he said. “Indeed, the boosters allow your immune system to have a wide range of capabilities against spike proteins that it hasn’t seen before. So if you need one more reason, if you qualify to get that booster right away, this would be it.
When it comes to contagiousness, “I think it’s clear from what’s happening in South Africa that this Omicron variant is spreading quickly,” Collins said, pointing out that the number of Covid-19 cases is relatively low in South Africa. -Africa.
“What we don’t know is whether this Omicron variant will surpass Delta in a country like ours, or if Delta, because it has been so successful, will basically just push it aside. That’s still unknown,” Collins said.
To remember: It’s also too early to say whether the Omicron variant causes more serious disease, Collins said earlier.