The omicron variant of the coronavirus has not made its way to the United States yet, but experts suggested the variant may pop up in the Bay Area in California in the next few weeks.
What is the omicron variant?
Over the Thanksgiving holiday break, researchers in South Africa announced the discovery of a new coronavirus variant that appears to have dozens of mutations, which might make it more likely to spread quickly and evade vaccines, as I wrote for the Deseret News.
- The World Health Organization later designed the variant as “omicron,” using the Greek alphabet letter to name the virus.
- So far, experts have been monitoring the virus variant, knowing that data about vaccine effectiveness and transmissibility are still a few weeks out.
Is the omicron variant in the United States?
The omicron variant is likely already in the United States even if there are no reported cases yet. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that the omicron variant will “inevitably” come to the U.S.
- “We all know when you have a virus that has already gone to multiple countries, inevitably it will be here,” he said. “The question is, will we be prepared for it?”
- “We are on the lookout for this. The CDC has a good surveillance system,” Fauci said. “So, if and when — and it is going to be when — it comes here, hopefully, we will be ready for it by enhancing our capabilities via the vaccine, masking, all the things that we do and should be doing.”
Is the omicron variant in California?
- “My guess is within the week we’ll hear of the first (omicron) cases in the U.S. and probably soon after that it will reach California and the Bay Area,” he said. “They all arrive eventually, especially the ones that are more transmissible.”
Similarly, Matt Willis, the Marin County health officer, told the San Francisco Chronicle that omicron will hit California soon enough.
- “I would be surprised if we didn’t see the variant surface in the Bay Area in the next few days,” he said.