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16:46 PM

NBC4: New COVID-19 Variant Spurs Renewed Calls for Vaccinations, Safety Measures

The first case of the new omicron variant of COVID was detected in California on Dec. 1.  A couple of days before that discovery, Joe Gastaldo, MD, OhioHealth system medical director of infectious diseases, was interviewed by NBC4 reporter Catherine Ross about what we still need to learn about this variant.

Dr. Gastaldo told NBC4 that scientists still need to determine how contagious omicron is and if the illnesses it causes are more severe than other COVID strains.  Dr. Gastaldo said that right now early reports show that those who contract omicron are experiencing relatively mild symptoms.  

Dr. Gastaldo said we need to keep doing what we're doing as far as prevention.

“It doesn’t change anything currently what we are doing. It’s still all about Delta. That’s what we are seeing,” Dr. Gastaldo told NBC4. He said that over 99 percent of COVID cases in this country are from the delta variant. 

While pharmaceutic companies are looking into the efficacy of the current vaccines in protecting against omicron, Dr. Gastaldo said if you're vaccinated, you should have some protection against this variant. 

“If you get vaccinated, you have those long-lasting memory cells and it’s very likely those memory cells will still offer a degree of protection,” Dr. Gastaldo told NBC4. “We still have to be cognizant of all the mitigation recommendations that we have been living with for almost two years. That’s really wearing a properly fitted mask, paying attention to the ventilation of air and sanitizing your hands on a regular basis. Nothing really changes what we’re doing. The best defense we have for infection, whether with this variant or the delta variant, still is to get vaccinated.”

To see the full story from NBC4, click on the logo below.