Omicron Variant rears ugly head in Nebraska

COVID-19 update for West Central District Health Department
Six Omicron variant cases confirmed in Nebraska
Six Omicron variant cases confirmed in Nebraska
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 8:21 PM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Will the Greek alphabet have enough letters to name all the variants we will see during the COVID-19 pandemic? The CDC says genetic lineages of SARS-CoV-2 have been emerging and circulating around the world since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These variants, or strains, are listed on the CDC.gov website. The latest of them is named Omicron (B.1.1.529), classified as a Variant of Concern (VOC) on November 30, 2021 by the U.S. Government. Omicron found its way to the United States, first in California, and now in other locations, including southwest Nebraska.

There are no cases of the newly discovered variant in the West Central District Health Department at this time.

Vanderheiden says there are a lot of conversations around Omicron, but with so few cases in the U.S., making any determinations will take time. She says experts are watching it closely, studying the incubation periods and severity, and how quickly it spreads. When someone tests positive with COVID-19 it takes an additional five to seven days to sequence it out to know more.

Vanderheiden stresses the importance of being vaccinated, referring us to the clear indication that vaccines are helping, as is seen within the elderly population. Hospital stays, which were once dominated by compromised and elderly patients, are now more and more seen to be younger, unvaccinated people. A high number of 30 to 40 year old patients are in the hospital more commonly than the elderly and compromised.

If you need a vaccine you can log on to the West Central District Health Department’s website at https://wcdhd.org/ to schedule an appointment for a first, second or booster shot. Vanderheiden says the process is very simple and the questionnaire only asks for a couple very simple answers to questions. While all vaccines are available at WCDHD, if you are getting a booster or even a second dose, (and if you are 18-years old or older), you can mix the brand of vaccine you get (a Moderna-first, Pfizer-second, for example). Anyone under 18-years old must get the Pfizer vaccine for now. And anyone 5-years old and up can be vaccinated.

All shots, boosters and testing are free at the WCDHD.

Each variant is classified within one of four classes of SARS-CoV-2 variants (Variant Being Monitored-VBM, Variant of Interest-VOI, Variant of Concern-VOC, and Variant of High Consequence-VOHC.

WHO Label: Delta

First Identified: India

Attributes:

  • Increased transmissibility29
  • Nearly all lineages designated as Delta are susceptible to Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) monoclonal antibody treatments. AY.1 and AY.2 lineages are not susceptible to some monoclonal antibody treatments.714
  • Reduction in neutralization by post-vaccination sera21

WHO Label:  Omicron

First Identified: South Africa

Attributes:

  • Potential increased transmissibility
  • Potential reduction in neutralization by some EUA monoclonal antibody treatments
  • Potential reduction in neutralization by post-vaccination sera

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). SARS-COV-2 variant classifications and definitions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant-info.html.

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