The Omicron variant has been detected in most states and territories and is rapidly increasing the proportion of COVID-19 cases it is causing.
The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. The CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
More data are needed to know if Omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.
Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Based on the changed genetic make-up of Omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.
Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters
The Delta variant is the predominant COVID-19 variant in the United States. Viruses mutate as they spread, resulting in the formation of various strains.
The delta variant is more than twice as contagious as the alpha strain. The spread of Delta compared to Omicron remains unknown.
The CDC has reported that recent studies in Canada and Scotland found that patients infected with delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients infected with the alpha strain of COVID-19.
Unvaccinated individuals are at the highest risk of transmitting and being infected with the delta variant. Fully vaccinated individuals can still get and transmit the delta variant.
A recent CDC study from August 2021 has indicated that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 66% effective against the delta variant. Although they are not 100% effective, vaccines provide the best protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Furthermore, vaccines can slow down the spread of the delta variant and prevent new variants from emerging. The CDC recommends that all individuals, vaccinated or unvaccinated, maintain social distancing measures and wear face coverings in public areas of high transmission. Please make sure to check city and local guidelines surrounding mask mandates. As of August 27, 2021, Boston is requiring individuals to wear face covering when indoors.