The new Omicron variant could eventually become the dominant strain and scientists are still trying to understand how it behaves — but the biggest concern right now is the dominant Delta variant, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, said Friday.
“We now have about 86,000 cases of Covid, right now in the United States being diagnosed daily, and 99.9% of them, the vast majority of them, continue to be Delta — and we know what we need to do against Delta, and that is get vaccinated, get boosted if you're eligible and continue all of those prevention measures including masking. And those are very likely to work against the Omicron variant,” Walensky told CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Walensky said Omicron could become the dominant strain in the country, but that is not clear yet. She said the country has stepped up its sequencing work to try and learn more about the new variant. There are five states reporting cases so far.
“What we do know is that early data, and even mutation data are telling us that this may well be a more transmissible variant than Delta. And so … this is gonna take some time to sort out,” Walensky said.
One case in Minnesota was in a resident who had had a Covid-19 booster. Walensky said they are still trying to understand more about the case.
“It is helpful to understand that this person had mild symptoms that have, to my understanding, resolved pretty swiftly,” Walensky said. “So it this may very well be actually a story of vaccines success, and not necessarily one of vaccine failure.”
The more mutations you have with a variant the more you want to bolster immunity, Walensky said.
“If you have previously had infection, you will definitely be more protected if you also get a vaccine, and that's really the goal here, is to try to provide the most amount of protection as possible so people will be protected against severe disease and ideally against infection altogether,” Walensky said.