A Message From CLEARED4:
Everyone at CLEARED4 wishes you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season! Like many of you, this weekend was interrupted by potentially distressing news about a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 that was detected in South Africa and other countries. To provide the best support for our family of clients, our team has been researching this situation for all information to give you an update in real time.
Many of you have reached out to me to inquire about this newly described variant B.1.1.529 which is now called “Omicron”. The topic has gained tremendous concern as the WHO has called an emergency meeting to discuss this issue. Now the US, the UK, and other countries have suspended flights from this region.
Like any other previous variant, attention is given to whether the variant is more contagious or deadly than previous incarnations of the pandemic coronavirus or more evasive to antibodies from vaccines and previous infections or standard testing.
All these questions remain definitively unanswerable for now but there certainly some concerning facts to consider. This variant contains at least 32 mutations in the spike protein which is the area that the vaccines are designed to target. Another concerning issue is that this variant has already become the dominant strain in South Africa within a short time and shown up in 90% of recent cases. This rapid dominance could imply that this variant is more contagious than other strains. Another serious point is that Botswana detected four of these infections in which all the individuals were fully vaccinated.
Clearly, the development of this new variant is a major issue that the world is taking seriously. A full extent of the implications will not be available immediately. Drugmakers think that an understanding of vaccine effectiveness to the variant will take up to two weeks. Exhaustive genetic testing will be required to find the true distribution and threat of the variant. We will keep everyone posted as information is gathered.
Further commentary on this topic will be made as information becomes available on the CLEARED4 website, the Laura Coates show on Sirius 124 at 4:30 where I am a weekly guest, and the Thursday CLEARED4 product and client updates.
Thanks to everyone for allowing CLEARED4 to assist them in their reopening needs.
Soumi Eachempati, MD