HEALTH

Researchers believe ‘omicron’ variant will be in Utah, sooner or later

Nov 26, 2021, 6:40 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:35 pm
utah covid children...
Kimberly Desmond, a registered nurse, draws a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at Rose Park Elementary in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – Health officials in Utah say they’re keeping a close eye on the new COVID variant (omicron variant) coming out of South Africa, but how worried should we be in the Beehive State?  Researchers say it’s likely going to come to Utah, the real question is “when?”

Omicron variant

Officials with the World Health Organization are classifying the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus in the same category as the highly contagious delta variant. And they believe the newest form of the virus is highly transmissible.  However, University of Utah Virologist Stephen Goldstein says scientists still have a lot of questions about omicron, especially since it’s so new.  For instance, they don’t know if the new variant is deadlier than the others.

“We don’t know anything about whether it causes more severe or less severe disease,” Goldstein said. ” There are early indications that it may be highly transmissible, although, it really is still too early to say.”

Goldstein says omicron is not an offshoot of the delta variant, so researchers are trying to learn as much as they can.  He believes the variant will, eventually, make its way to Utah, however, no one knows when. 

Should we cancel our Christmas plans?  Perhaps, not yet, although doctors still recommend masks, limiting crowd sizes and social distancing to limit any kind of viral spread.

“The travel restrictions that are being put in place may slow it down, a little.  I think Christmas is soon enough that I don’t think this variant is likely to have a huge impact on Christmas,” Goldstein said.

Current vaccines should provide ‘some protection’

Another question… will the current vaccines provide significant protection against the omicron variant?  Goldstein says it’s too soon to know that, also.  However, vaccines have been shown to decrease the severity of the illness, even if someone becomes infected.

“Getting a third dose of the vaccine is likely to provide an additional level of protection,” Goldstein said.  “So, this is a really good time, with Christmas in about a month, to go get a booster if you haven’t yet.  Or, start your vaccination series, if you haven’t done that.”

Vaccine manufacturers appear to be wasting no time in researching this new variant.  Goldstein says research began the very day news of omicron came out.

Goldstein said, “The companies that make vaccines are already starting to develop vaccines specifically against this variant.  We can expect to learn much more about this variant in the next week, or two.”

 

Related articles

World races to contain new COVID threat, the omicron variant

New COVID omicron variant triggers travel bans

Stocks sink on new COVID variant, Dow loses 905 points

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

A bill on transgender healthcare — banning transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV and Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Utah Senate approves changes to transgender care bill, passes on to Gov. Cox

SB16 bans gender-confirming surgeries for minors and also places a moratorium on puberty blockers for minors.
3 days ago
Havasu Falls spills into the water pools below in Supai, Arizona, in October of 2016. Photo credit:...
Forrest Brown, CNN

Grand Canyon’s Havasu Falls to reopen to visitors after 3-year closure

 (CNN) — Havasu Falls, one of the most intriguing features of the Grand Canyon system, will be reopening to visitors after a three-year closure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s with a catch. The reopening is scheduled for February 1; however, access will be limited initially to a certain, small group. People whose previous […]
3 days ago
White carnations representing each of the 1,746 unborn babies that were aborted in Utah in 2022 are...
Allessandra Harris and Simone Seikaly

Speeches, silence, during Pro-Life Utah memorial at the Capitol

About 100 people including Utah lawmakers and religious leaders attended the memorial on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
4 days ago
 A mental health clinic will reopen on Thursday after a carbon monoxide leak sent at least 17 peop...
Michael Locklear

Carbon monoxide poisoning at central Utah clinic hospitalizes 17 people

The Central Utah Counseling Center in Ephraim was evacuated a week ago after a problem with an old furnace was discovered.
5 days ago
a row of guns are pictured...
Mark Jones

KSL at Night: How do we solve gun violence?

KSL at Night hosts Taylor Morgan and Maura Carabello speak with Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council about gun violence.
6 days ago
Prescription opioid...
Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

Amazon launches $5-a-month unlimited prescription plan

Some of the generic drugs included in the program include Bupropion, Cephalexin, Doxycycline, Estradiol and Sertaline.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Researchers believe ‘omicron’ variant will be in Utah, sooner or later