Omicron runs rampant after holidays



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***Disclaimer: This article is an opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the West Milford School District, the West Milford Board of Education, or the Journalism class as a whole.  


As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, one might expect the virus to be nearing the end of its run, but that is not the case. Though COVID has yet to fade away, many have been acting as though it has. Despite the wealth of information being shared constantly by public health officials, some still deny the impending threat of the virus.  Though a vaccine was rolled out to the masses last year, many of these same individuals have refused to get it, as they question its development and its ingredients.  These nonchalant responses have enabled the virus to spread to the extent it has over the past two years. Much like the Flu, the COVID virus has found ways to adapt over time. These adaptations have come to be known as variants and thus far, there have been several: each with its own effects. The newest of these variants is known as the Omicron variant, and since its discovery, has had disastrous impacts on countries worldwide. 

The Omicron variant was first identified by scientists in regions of South Africa and Botswana during the month of November last year. The variant spread quickly, as the first case of Omicron was reported in the US on December 1, when a California resident tested positive. Though Omicron has just now begun to spread, scientists researching the genetic material discovered that Omicron evolved from a prior strain of COVID that had spread during 2020. 

Just as animals have evolved over hundreds of years to better adapt to their environments, COVID strains have changed over time to infect as many as possible. Before Omicron began to spread to the masses, the Delta strain was all over headlines. Unlike Omicron, which is incredibly infectious, the Delta variant was deadlier. This meant that if infected, a person would face a greater risk of hospitalization or death. Thus while Omicron adapted to infect more people, the Delta virus adapted to be more severe to those infected. 

Though Omicron is a relatively new strain, scientists have already discovered traces of a new strain coined Deltacron. This ominous-sounding variant is–you guessed it–a combination of the genetic material found in each of the Delta and Omicron strains. However, some have contested these findings, citing laboratory contamination as a possible cause of fault in these findings. Others, however, firmly stand by the findings. Though this strain is yet to be confirmed, it certainly poses a serious threat to the masses. The truth is that the longer people ignore the imposing threat of COVID, the more the virus will circulate, allowing for it to mutate into new variants beyond those that we know of now. 

 After the holidays, hospitals nationwide were overwhelmed with COVID patients. With beds being taken up by those infected, in some instances, patients arriving at these hospitals having sustained injuries or suffering from threatening illnesses were unable to receive adequate care. Some patients with scheduled surgeries were unable to undergo their operations on time because of cancellations caused by a lack of available healthcare workers. Ambulances were overwhelmed as well, facing delays when dropping off patients. 

The spread of Omicron has again reminded many that the COVID-19 virus continues to threaten the well-being of many. As cases begin to wane, it is necessary to remember that if precautions are not taken, the virus will continue to spread and adapt. The best way to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated, go for your boosters, wear your masks and social distance when necessary. The sooner we can all work together, the sooner we can see an end to the virus that has already deprived us of so much these past few years.