The Winter Season Invites Omicron


Image of the booster vaccine, now available for high schoolers of all ages.

Jessi Ruiz, Staff Reporter

We all saw it coming didn’t we? With the winter season came a shiny new COVID variant, Omicron. We’ve all heard of it, but we don’t know everything there is to know about it. How can we protect ourselves from the Omicron variant?


As we already know, Omicron is a variant of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, this variant is more powerful, according to the CDC. “CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.” Nina Buzzotta, who is a part of the HOSA club, also states, “The new Omicron variant carries an unusually high number of mutations that make it more transmissible and less susceptible to existing vaccines.” It is not known how much more powerful it is than the Delta virus we heard so much about earlier this year, but it is definitely powerful enough to overwork our medical staff and fill up hospital beds, just like last winter. 


Once Christmas passed, COVID cases almost spiked, and there is a reason why. “Gatherings continued to grow more frequent as we neared the holidays with more relaxed restrictions. And though vaccinations continue to be stated by health professionals as essential for combating the spreading of COVID, more than 107 million Americans remain completely unvaccinated and thus continue to account for the majority of new infections and hospitalizations,” Buzzotta says.


People often wonder why we hear of a new variant every few months. Buzzotta states, “Like any other virus, variants pop up when there’s a mutation to the virus’s genes. This is just the nature of RNA viruses like the coronavirus that evolve and change gradually. Mutations like this also aren’t unexpected, as all RNA viruses mutate over time, though some do more than others. This is why doctors recommend you get a new flu vaccine every year, for example, because flu viruses change often.” We don’t hear of every new flu variant because we’ve had the flu virus under control for about a century. COVID, however, is far from being under control, which is why we need to be hearing about it so often so that we know the precautions that we need to take. 


This is definitely terrifying. COVID is spreading way faster and way easier now. What can we do to protect ourselves? This is what Buzzotta recommends. “As of now, none of the new coronavirus variants call for any different prevention strategies. We need to continue doing the basic precautions that we know work to interrupt the spread of the virus. These include getting the COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a well-fitting mask, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, washing your hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, and monitoring your health daily.”


Not only this, but it is extremely crucial to get your booster vaccine, now available for Pfizer recipients for ages 16+. “A booster refers to a vaccine dosage given to someone who built enough protection initially after their first vaccination, yet lost some of that protection over time. This is known as waning immunity, and it’s something health officials expected to happen with COVID-19 vaccines. The decline of vaccine efficacy over time is a key factor in increased hospitalizations which is why boosters are key for preventing a larger surge this winter The recent results of booster studies for mRNA vaccines support that another dose increases the antibody response to vaccination, as a higher antibody response likely includes more antibodies that are able to cross-protect against variant virus,” (Buzzotta). 


It is not necessary to panic so much if you’ve done the right thing and gotten yourself fully vaccinated. Be sure to get your booster, keep your mask on and your six foot distance, and you shall make it through the brutal winter season. 


Have a safe rest of your winter, PCH!