LYCOMING COUNTY, Pa. — Medical professionals both around the globe and locally are racing to learn more information about the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. The lead infectious disease expert at UPMC Northcentral spoke with Newswatch 16 about this new variant.
"This particular variant has characteristics of both the Beta variant and the Delta variant. Which means that so far we know that it can be easily transmissible, and second of all, it can evade immune mechanisms," said Dr. Rutul Dalal, the lead infectious disease expert at UPMC Northcentral.
Dr. Rutul Dalal says almost 99.9% of all COVID-19 cases in the US right now consist of the Delta Variant. He says the new variant could be here as soon as next month. He listed some of the symptoms.
"With this variant so far, we are seeing the most common symptom, headaches. We are also seeing fatigue and muscle aches," said Dr. Dalal.
The CEO of Moderna recently stated that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus as they have been previously. Dr. Dalal says scientist can update the vaccine to counter this new variant.
"If they want to tweak it, then the tweak can happen under 100 days. So, within three months, the big vaccine manufacturers can tweak their vaccine and work against this particular variant because of the mRNA technology," said Dr. Dalal.
At the moment, 55 people, 10 of which are on ventilators, are being hospitalized at UPMC Williamsport with COVID-19. The majority of those people are unvaccinated.
"With this new variant coming in and as we approach the holiday and with the temperatures dropping, it will be a long and dreary few months for all of us," said Dr. Dalal.
Dr. Dalal encourages both mask-wearing and social distancing over the next few months. If you are in need of a vaccine, you can SIGN UP FOR ONE HERE.