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Avera Medical Minute: What we know about the Omicron Variant

Dr. David Basel gives us more info
Avera Medical Minute
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 7:29 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Thor: Dr. David Basel with Avera Health joins us. Thanks for joining us doctor. First of all, let’s talk about what do we know about this new variant? And do people need to be concerned?

Dr. Basel: “So that’s a great question that we don’t know the answer too. How scary is this variant going to be, the Omicron? So we know it spread really fast in South Africa. And we know that there’s quite a few mutations to it, that it could be potentially dangerous. But what we don’t know for sure yet is one, does it cause more severe illness? Two, can it escape natural immunity or vaccine immunity? And three, how much will it spread among higher vaccinated populations than South Africa. So over the next few weeks, we’ll hopefully get the answers to those questions.”

Thor: Do you see this impacting holiday travel as we are getting close to that?

Dr. Basel: “Usually it takes a least a couple of months for these variants to make their way across and really become a problem and take over as the main virus. But it did it quicker than that in South Africa, so it’s possible it may affect the holidays. We’ll just have to wait and see we’re hoping not.”

Thor: How are things in the hospitals right now? Are the numbers still pretty high in terms of patients?

Dr Basel: “October they stayed kind of at one level. And then we took about a 10 to 20 percent jump in November, and we just kind of stayed level at that number. And so folks are still scrambling to find places to put anyone new that comes in on a daily basis and it really hasn’t changed.”

Thor: Are you expecting a holiday surge in hospitalizations?

Dr. Basel: “The projections right now show kind of that a continued high level that we are at. The worry would be really is if influenza started to add in some numbers of top of that. That would be the scary additions.”

Thor: Dr Basel thanks for joining us.

Dr. Basel: “Thank you for having me, as always.”

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