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Omicron variant questions mount– answers are on the way

A new curveball has been thrown into the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic: the variant named “omicron.”

On Friday, the World Health Organization labeled the new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a “variant of concern.” And, with several more mutations than previous variants, omicron has sparked renewed worries about the future of the pandemic.

Those concerns arose because when scientists sequenced the genome of the omicron variant, they found that some of the mutations might be associated with increased transmissibility, while others might help the virus evade the immune response from vaccinations or previous infections. The emergence and detection of the variant in Southern Africa also coincides with a surge in casesin that region. That’s why the WHO immediately warned the world about this variant.

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AP Photo/Jerome Delay.

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