The first confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) was identified in San Francisco, California. The person had recently traveled to South Africa, where the variant was first reported to the World Health Organization. According to the CDC, the person had only mild symptoms and is better.
First discovered in Botswana and later in South Africa, the Omicron variant has a large number of mutations in parts of the genome that could make it more transmissible and possibly more resistant to certain therapeutics. Classified as a worrying variant, Omicron has been detected in at least 20 countries around the world.
Whether Omicron is more transmissible than other worrying SARS-CoV-2 variants (i.e., Delta) is unknown; however, preliminary data suggest an increased infectivity based on the mutations of the receptor-binding protein of the virus variant.
The CDC recommends health care providers maintain a travel history for all suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. The local health department should be informed of the travel history if the case is confirmed and there is an international travel history within 14 days of the onset of symptoms or, if asymptomatic, a positive test is present.
The symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection of the Omicron variant appear to be similar to those of other variants. Individuals can also be asymptomatic. No unusual symptoms have been reported so far. Symptoms may be milder in people already infected or vaccinated with SARS-CoV-2.
Vaccine manufacturers are working to test the available COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron. No data are currently available on the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies or antiviral therapies. In a statement, Regeneron, the developer of the monoclonal antibody therapy REGEN-COV® (casirivimab and imdevimab), stated that “previous in vitro analyzes and structural models for the individual mutations in the Omicron variant indicate that the neutralization activity is reduced may of both vaccine-induced and monoclonal antibody-mediated immunity, including current REGEN-COV antibodies. “
Currently, the CDC recommends that healthcare providers strictly follow NIH COVID-19 treatment guidelines. In a briefing with President Biden, Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci highlighted the importance of vaccination as the best tool to protect against serious COVID-19 disease while additional data is collected on Omicron.
- First confirmed case of the Omicron variant discovered in the United States. The website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. December 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1201-omicron-variant.html.
- New worrying SARS-CoV-2 variant identified: variant Omicron (B.1.1.529). The website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. December 1, 2021. https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2021/han00459.asp.
This article originally appeared on MPR