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How much more will Omicron mutate as it quickly spreads beyond 38 nations and six states?

Daniel R. Lucey, MD, MPH, FIDSA
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Over the past eight days since the initial report on Nov. 25 of the highly-mutated variant named “Omicron” by WHO the following day, it has been reported in at least 38 nations across six continents and six U.S. states. More nations and states will be added day by day in the coming weeks as community transmission has already begun in multiple nations and several U.S. states.

States as of mid-day Friday, Dec. 3, reporting cases include California (2), Minnesota (1), New York (5), Hawaii (1), Colorado (1) and Nebraska (6). 

Preliminary non-peer reviewed reports of an increased risk of reinfection by Omicron, compared with Delta or even Beta, have appeared from outstanding medical researchers in South Africa. As ongoing studies to assess this issue, as well as hospitalization rates, and potential immune evasion to vaccines, proceed, it will be important to sequence all Omicron viral isolates to interpret further mutations that will likely occur in this variant (if it does infect hundreds of millions of people) with regard to the above epidemiologic, clinical and immunologic issues.


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