Medical Technology

First Omicron Variant Case Identified in US

Editor’s Note: Search the latest COVID-19 news in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

The first instance of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the United States was confirmed by officials today, in a person in California who recently traveled to South Africa. Officials with the CDC said that the patient was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and that he or she experienced only mild symptoms that are improving.

The patient who was not identified in the announcement by the CDC of the first U.S. case of the Omicron variant on Wednesday, is self-quarantining.

Officials stated that all close contacts had been tested and contacted positive.

The announcement should come as no surprise to many since the Omicron variant, first discovered in South Africa, has been reported in many countries around the world in recent days. This variant was discovered in Hong Kong, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the Netherlands. Over the weekend, the first North American cases were identified in Canada.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has announced over the weekend that the latest variant was likely to be in the U.S., telling ABC’s This Weekits appearance here was “inevitable.”

Similar to earlier variants, this new strain is likely to have been introduced into the U.S. before scientists could conduct genetic tests to confirm its presence.

The World Health Organization named Omicron a “variant of concern” on Friday, even although there isn’t much information available about the extent to which it spreads, how severe it can be and how it could resist vaccinations. The U.S. has implemented travel bans for several South African countries.

It remains to be seen if Omicron will continue the Delta variant’s path, which was initially discovered in the U.S.A in May and became the predominant strain in July. It is possible that Omicron could follow the Mu variant’s path. Mu was first introduced in March and April to great anxiety, but then faded out in September as it was not able to compete with the Delta variant.

Staff journalist Damian McNamara resides in Miami. He covers a broad range of medical specialties including infectious diseases, gastroenterology and critical care. Follow Damian on Twitter: @MedReporter.

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