LAFAYETTE, LA (KADN)- The first U.S. case of the Omicron variant was announced in California as of today.
Dr. Larry Simon, the medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, shared if the new variant should raise concern for us here in Acadiana.
According to Simon, the omicron variant is way more infectious than the delta variant.
“Delta had nine mutations in the spike protein. They happen to be in the exact right places that led delta to be incredibly contagious. The new variant the omicron variant has over 30 mutations,” Dr. Simon said.
The omicron variant has been the latest strain of the coronavirus that has been declared a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.
“Early data is indicating it came from someone who's likely immunocompromised and the virus is able to remain in their body for a long period of time and constantly mutate and develop new ways to evade that own host immune system before it jumped out and affected somebody else,” he said.
Dr. Simon believes that the new variant should motivate people, even more, to get vaccinated.
“It's a reasonable assumption to make that even if the vaccine doesn't keep you from getting an omicron infection. If you do, you're more likely to have a much milder case of it,” he said.
Thomas Alex, a Lafayette resident, told News15 that he wasn’t expecting to hear about a new variant, especially since cases have been going down.
“Surprised...I was very surprised; I didn't think would be that soon,” Alex said.
Although Alex isn’t vaccinated, if a spike of omicron cases does happen, he will think again about getting the vaccine.
“I’m a lil fearful but I'm just hoping for the best. If worse comes the worst. Yeah. But to me, it's just a wait and see then,” he added.
In the meantime, Dr. Simon does recommend going back to practicing COVID-19 safety protocols.
“I have gone back now to wearing a mask again even though the governor's ban was lifted with omicron everything else I've gone back to wearing the mask now, when I go into the grocery store or when I go into to work,” Dr. Simon said.
According to the CDC, the person who tested positive for the omicron variant was fully vaccinated.