The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus has dominated news discussions over the weekend as the new variant emerged and clearly spread panic throughout the world.

What is the omicron variant?

The omicron variant was revealed over Thanksgiving weekend. Per The Associated Press, the omicron variant was originally discovered in Botswana, where there were four cases among fully vaccinated people.

  • Some cases were found in Hong Kong among travelers from South Africa.
  • Many cases have since been linked to South Africa.
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The omicron variant worries experts because it reportedly has at least 30 mutations in the spike protein and at least 10 mutations in the ACE2 receptor, which both help the virus create an entry point to infect humans, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

Is the omicron variant more contagious?

It’s unclear if the omicron variant is more contagious. However, The Wall Street Journal reported one example of how serious this variant could be.

  • According to the report, two people across the hall from each other both were infected with the omicron variant — even though they never interacted with each other.
  • “Most likely, air from one of their hotel rooms spread into the hallway and through a door opening, where the other breathed it in,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

That said, experts have said there’s not enough information about the variant to determine how contagious it will be as it spreads throughout the population. Experts have also suggested that the omicron variant has led to mild symptoms among those infected with it.