Scientists Discover New COVID Variant

Ella Mohler, Staff Writer

On November 26, 2021, a new variant of the COVID virus was discovered in South Africa.  Omicron, the new variant named by the World Health Organization (WHO), is currently being studied by scientists and researchers across the world.  

“All variants of COVID-19 follow the Greek alphabet naming scheme, but we typically only hea

Courtesy of The World Health Organization

r about the ‘Variants of Concern,’” says Dr. Sara Koenig, Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University’s College of Medicine and Director of a Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory.  “This is a classification provided by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. Delta, Alpha, and Gamma are other variants that were in the news for this classification. Alpha and Gamma have since been re-classified as ‘Variants Being Monitored’ by the CDC.”

As Dr. Koenig mentions, COVID variants like Delta and Omicron are classified as “Variants of Concern” that the WHO and CDC believe are more dangerous to public health than some other lesser-known variants.  It is believed that Omicron could pose a larger threat than others, though.

“Limited early data suggests that Omicron is more transmissible than Delta,” says Dr. Koenig. Although Omicron may be more contagious, scientists “expect that the Pfizer vaccination should still be effective in preventing severe disease.”

Now more than ever, it is extremely important to protect yourself and those around you by taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID.

“Follow standard COVID-19 safety precautions – wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and get your vaccination/booster. These measures are highly effective in preventing community spread and severe disease.”