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A photo of what Novel Coronavirus SARS particle looks like. (Creative Commons image)

The Omicron Variant

A new variant of COVID-19 has been discovered in several African countries leading to nations all over the world limiting travel.

This past week, the new Omicron variant, stemming from the coronavirus, has surfaced in many African countries. This new variant has caused nations worldwide to cut off travel to and from areas of the continent. Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have been classified as “high-risk” countries by United States officials. People who have traveled to and from these countries in the past 14 days are being required to be quarantined for two weeks as well as get tested for COVID. This variant has also been found in other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, and Hong Kong.

Little is known about this emerging variant and how it affects people who have contracted it. Researchers reported that it could be more transmissible and will affect the body’s immune systems as much as the original version of Coronavirus. It is unknown if vaccinated individuals are also at risk of contracting this variant but scientists have stated that they believe the vaccine will be less effective towards this variant. 

This new variant has caused panic throughout the world, especially here in the US. Liberty senior, Amelia Cleary, shared her worry about the latest variant in the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t know much about this variant but it does make me really nervous because of all the things we’ve already had to deal with with this pandemic,” she explained. “I’m more [nervous] because we’re coming up on the holiday season and I don’t want to be in lockdown during family events and stuff.”

There has not been much said about the variant from US officials. After South Africa’s health minister released the information about this variant, president Biden banned flights to and from the seven main African nations where the variant has been spreading the most. Lily Ellickson, sophomore, shared what she thought was going to happen in the future with this variant.

“One thing I think might happen is that people aren’t going to take it seriously because they got the vaccine they think they’re pretty much immune to it but they don’t know if they are or not yet. People are over wearing masks and trying to distance themselves from each other but I think that’s what’s needed to keep people healthy from this new variant.”

People are over wearing masks and trying to distance themselves from each other but I think that’s what’s needed to keep people healthy from this new variant.

— Lily Ellickson

As this variant continues to spread, researchers are trying to quickly and accurately find out more about Omicron. Although not much is known about it right now, we are bound to find out more about the variant as time goes on. Many people wonder if this variant will lead us into a relapse in our progress with the current state of COVID-19 but right now, it is hard to tell.

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