BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — According to the world health organization – the first reported case of the omicron COVID-19 variant was on November 24th from South Africa.
Exactly one week since then the first reported case of the omicron variant in the United States was found Wednesday here in California.
While the variant has made its way to California it has not been detected here in Kern County yet. But officials said the best thing you can do to prepare for the variant is to continue following their recommended guidelines.
“What can we do with this potential new variant of Omicron, get vaccinated,” said Michelle Corson the PIO for Kern County Public Health Department.
“We found the variant now, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been in the community or country for a while, we’re learning that the variants are already in other places and that maybe it was in other places before it was in other places to,” said Parthiban Munnainathan the Associate Medical Director for Omni Family Health.
Chief Medical Officer with Adventist Health, Ghassan Jamaleddine said officials still don’t know much about the omicron variant.
“As it relates to the omicron virus, we still don’t know, what we know is that in South Africa, the number of cases reported per day in November jumped from 300 to 3,000 but 10 times, and then when they sequenced the virus, they found it was a different virus then the delta,” said Jamaleddine.
Officials still said some of the best things you can do is to continue following health safety guidelines like washing your hands and wearing masks and social distancing.
“We don’t want to miss how important it is to continue all those healthy habits. Maintaining a healthy diet, especially during the season where influenza, COVID -19, and the common cold is circulating, staying home when you’re sick, wearing your face covering especially when you’re in public places and you’re not sure of the vaccination status of people around you. These are all really important steps you can take to protect your family,” said Corson.
Munnainathan said while they are still learning about the omicron variant, vaccines have proven to be helpful with past variants.
“When the delta variant came out and the other variants emerged, we weren’t sure if our current vaccine will be helpful, but it turns out it was helpful, and getting the booster makes it even more effective,” said Munnainathan. “With omicron, the scientist are still working to find out if our current vaccinations are effective, and when we find that out, we will let our community know. “
Corson added that they will continue to work with the state as new information becomes available.
“It’s really important that our community knows that we are working in close communication with our state department of public health and as information is learned which it will be in the coming weeks from the CDC and the surveillance that’s being conducted, we will be sharing that information the minute we learn anything new,” said Corson.
The California Department of Public Health issued a statement Wednesday about the variant encouraging everyone to stay vigilant and said the state will increase testing at airports to help detect and prevent the spread of the variant.
According to Dr. Mark Ghaly, the person who tested positive for the variant in California was fully vaccinated but had not received their booster shot yet.
As the omicron variant has made its arrival to the state 23ABC took an in-depth look at what early scientific data suggests about the variant.
- Scientists in South Africa and Botswana detected the new strain which has about 50 mutations across its genome. In comparison, the Delta variant has fewer than 20.
- Early scientific findings suggest that Omicron could be more transmissible than delta.
- Additional preliminary evidence predicts that Omicron can increase the risk of being reinfected by COVID-19.
- Lastly, Omicron appears to be significantly resistant to antibodies. That means that vaccines will be less effective against the variant.