The Omicron Variant

The Omicron Variant

Arianna Costello, Staff Writer

While the COVID infection rate seems to be decreasing, a new variant is causing that decrease to become less dramatic.

This new variant is called BA.2 and is a subvariety of Omicron.  World-wide there are still thousands of deaths every day, which is not even 1% of the population, yet this remains a significant issue because reported deaths have almost reached 6 million people. On 2/22 there were 99.82k new cases in the United States- almost 1 million people and about 3% of the entire U.S. Population.

Luckily, the infection and death rates in Albany County have been very low recently.  1.5k new cases were reported for New York within the last week and 28 cases and no deaths were reported for Albany county on 2/22- how amazing is that!  Another great trend is the district reporting less and less cases per day.  However, the amount of reported unvaccinated contacts per day was concerning for a period.  Nevertheless, the vaccination statistics show that, as of 2/22, 75.3% of the New York population is fully vaccinated and 88.7% of New York Population has one dose.  Upon looking at these statistics it seems we may possibly be on the other side of this virus!

The Omicron virus was first confirmed in NYS on December 2, 2021 and has since caused a new wave of fear surrounding the Covid pandemic.

This new variant is similar, in the fact that you can still get/spread Omicron to other people even if you don’t have symptoms and are vaccinated because vaccinations are NOT 100% effective.  It is a dangerous variant in the fact that it is more likely to become re-infected even if you are vaccinated, although if you’re vaccinated there’s a much less chance of death or serious disease.

Make sure to get your vaccinations as soon as you are eligible and a booster 6 months after to best protect you from the wide variety of strands of COVID-19.  These protect from COVID because they are around 82% effective from omicron and 94% for Delta after 3 doses.  It is also safe to test whenever you think you or someone around you was exposed or has COVID-19.  You can continue to stay safe by wearing the right mask in situations where it would be needed, including big events, in higher risk regions, when traveling, etc. The KN-95 and N-95 masks are the best to protect from COVID-19 but depending on your comfort, health status, and the health status of those around you, you can choose the mask best suitable for you while keeping in mind that the N-95 is the safest.

If possible, wear an N-95 mask because it offers the most protection from the virus.

The effectiveness of masks is ordered in terms of protection with the following results: N-95, KN-95, Surgical, then the many cloth variants that withhold only 30-40% accuracy and others going higher with the right alterations.  This is a great source for more information:

Many Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted and districts are even lifting the mask mandate, recently including Albany as of March 2nd. It really seems that life is getting “back to normal” or the normal that life has evolved to after these 2 years of COVID craziness. As of now, there are no foreseen problems as long as people are as safe as they can be through receiving vaccinations, boosters, tests, and wearing a mask.