Omicron Variant Sparks Concerns of New Restrictions

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President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 variant named omicron during a visit to the National Institutes of Health, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Bethesda, Md. Biden looked out over an audience of government scientists and framed his latest plan for fighting COVID-19 as an opportunity to at last put an end to divisiveness over the virus, calling the politicization of the issue a “sad, sad commentary.”

Tyler Chrenka, Editor-in-Chief

The World Health Organization (WHO) classified the new Omicron Variant, which was first discovered in South Africa in early November, as a variant of concern on November 26. Scientists discovered it has several mutations that could allow it to spread faster, cause worse sickness and evade vaccine immunity.

The WHO says Omicron poses a “very high” risk to the global population, especially in countries with low vaccination rates. Though Omicron’s potential is threatening, scientists still have much research to do before its severity is fully known. 

From the little research that has been done, scientists said that Omicron seems to be more contagious than the Delta variant in both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, but they have not determined whether it causes worse sickness, according to the New York Times. 

Senior Josie O’Day is worried about the new variant because of the possibility that it could evade vaccine-built immunity.

“I am concerned about the new variant, but I am not panicking,” O’Day said. “It’s just scary that some people are saying that the vaccine won’t work against it. If that was the case, it would pretty much be like starting all over with a new pandemic.”

The Israeli Health Minister said that there are indications that receiving a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine could protect individuals against Omicron. The CDC also said that all adults should get their booster shot to increase protection. 

O’Day says this news makes her want to get the booster shot even more. 

“I was going to get the booster anyway, but I’m more inclined to get it now due to the new variant,” O’Day said. “Most of my family would be very negatively affected if they got covid, so getting the booster is something I want to do to protect my loved ones.” 

In addition to South Africa, Omicron has been found in many other countries including the U.S., prompting fears of new COVID-19 restrictions. 

Junior Eman Rana says she is worried that things could shut down but is hopeful because of vaccines. 

“The Omicron strain is anxiety causing for me. I am worried that since the first covid strain broke out around this time, history will repeat itself,” Rana said. “I think we may get a larger mask mandate, but I am hoping that because of vaccinations and boosters we will have a smaller and faster containment process.”

Senior Tino Ojeda has a similar outlook. 

“The Omicron variant seems to be the worst yet,” Ojeda said. “I anticipate a surge among the unvaccinated, but I do not see us closing down again.”