The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus has been worrying experts since it was first announced, and many have already been anticipating its arrival.

Scientists in South Africa first announced the discovery of omicron over Thanksgiving weekend, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician at Lifespan and a Brown University researcher, told WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island, that the omicron variant “is the variant that many of us have been worried about.”

  • “Time will tell if it is as serious as the preliminary reports suggest that it may be,” she said.

Ranney said the research is still being done into the omicron variant. More research and data will help experts understand the new variant and how it could impact our society.

  • “The thing about omicron is that it has numerous mutations to a lot of different parts of its genome that make it potentially much more transmissible and much more difficult to fight with some of the strategies that we already have,” said Ranney.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said researchers want to examine “the features of the virus itself.”

  • He said that “the virus sequence has a lot of mutations that we know are associated not just with increased immune evasion, the ability to evade the immunity that we’ve acquired through vaccination of prior infection, but also potentially virulence that could make it more contagious and a more fearsome virus.”