News of the new Coronavirus variant, Omicron, recently identified in Southern Africa, has begun to sweep the world. As the mutation is new, it is hard to predict how much of a threat the virus poses as it has already entered the United States and many other countries.
Travel lockdowns have already begun and flight restrictions are underway, but much controversy exists over whether this is merely a punitive step to South Africa when the world should be thanking them for their advanced notification. With the recent information of Omicron, people have begun to panic due to the uncertainty of how dangerous the variant could potentially be.
People throughout the world have panicked with the news, stock markets have fallen, and the real future of this variant is still unknown. The CDC has warned the public to use good protections that we learned will protect us, including vaccinations, boosters, mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing, and continuing COVID regulations. Health officials also stated that “…experts have urged caution,…there is as yet no firm evidence that Omicron is more dangerous than previous variants like Delta…” The World Health Organization has determined Omicron “a variant of concern” due to the amount of mutations which looks to be a threat posing individuals to reinfection. This does not appear to be playing out. Even though Omnicron is more contagious than COVID-19, at least from South Africa’s experience, the Omicron virus does not appear to be more virulent.
Some people have been finding out about the Omicron variant from people on the internet making fun of the name, “Veterans of American sorority and fraternity life might have noticed the system has skipped the next two letters in the alphabetical order: Nu and Xi” (NYTimes). Omicron, derived from the Greek alphabet, has made people make jokes about how it sounds like a name of a fraternity or sorority calling it Sigma virus, Theta virus, Lambda virus. Unfortunately, this style of comedic relief can only go so far in lightening the seriousness of this pandemic.