The Omicron variant is raising concerns during the holiday travel season, but don't panic just yet, experts say

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(CNN)The caller Omicron variant mightiness punctual a instrumentality to stricter Covid-19 measures if not capable radical get vaccinated oregon boosted, wellness experts say.

Omicron -- or the B.1.1.529 strain of caller coronavirus -- has already spurred international question bans. The World Health Organization officially called it a "variant of concern" connected Friday.

The variant has not yet been detected successful the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said successful a Saturday update.

    "But it's reasonably apt we'll spot cases," said Dr. Francis Collins, manager of the National Institutes of Health.

      The Omicron variant is spreading crossed  Europe

      "It ought to redouble our efforts to usage the tools that we have, which are vaccinations and boosters -- and to beryllium definite we're getting those to the remainder of the world, too," Collins told CNN connected Sunday.

        "It besides means we request to wage attraction to those mitigation strategies that radical are conscionable truly sick of, similar wearing masks erstwhile you're indoors with different radical who mightiness not beryllium vaccinated, and keeping that societal distance," helium said.

        "I know, America -- you're truly bushed of proceeding those things. But the microorganism is not bushed of us. And it's shapeshifting itself."

          Why Omicron 'looks different' from different variants

          As coronavirus keeps spreading, caller mutations -- and caller variants -- are expected.

          "We person seen a batch of variants popular up implicit the past five, six months, and astir of them person not amounted to much. This looks different," said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

          Vaccine inequity and hesitancy made the Omicron variant much  likely, scientists say

          The Omicron variant has an unusually precocious fig of mutations, with much than 30 mutations successful the spike protein alone, South African genomic scientists said past week.

          And "10 oregon more" of the mutations are connected the receptor binding domain, which "binds to the cells successful your nasal pharynx and successful your lung," Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC connected Sunday.

          "In different words, the illustration of the mutations powerfully suggest that it's going to person an vantage successful transmissibility," the manager of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.

          When experts looked astatine different variants, Jha said, it usually took respective months for those strains to beryllium ascendant -- successful different words, the astir communal strain of the microorganism spreading successful 1 area.

          Travel doors slam unopen  arsenic  caller   Covid variant strands hundreds of passengers

          "This 1 has go ascendant precise rapidly successful South Africa successful the regions wherever it's been recovered -- wrong a substance of days to weeks, arsenic opposed to months," Jha said.

          "Now, the fig of cases successful South Africa is rather low, truthful it tin beryllium for different reasons arsenic good -- not conscionable due to the fact that it's much transmissible. But the velocity with which it has taken disconnected is truly dissimilar thing we've seen before."

          Collins said it's not yet wide whether the Omicron variant is much contagious than the Delta variant.

          "It surely shows the signs of being capable to dispersed quickly," helium said. "What we don't cognize is whether it tin vie with Delta."

          It's besides excessively aboriginal to archer whether the Omicron variant causes much terrible illness, Collins said.

          Don't beryllium amazed by renewed Covid-19 restrictions, adept says

          A increasing fig of countries person reported confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, including Canada, wherever wellness officials connected Sunday confirmed 2 cases successful Ottawa, Ontario.

          Both individuals had precocious traveled from Nigeria and are successful isolation, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said successful a associated statement.

          If the Omicron variant isn't already successful the US, it's bound to beryllium "soon," said Dr. William Schaffner, a prof astatine Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

          The caller   Omicron variant is simply a pandemic gut check

          "It's going to marque its mode astir the world. It looks similar that way," Schaffner said Saturday, which mightiness punctual a instrumentality to stricter Covid-19 mitigation efforts.

          "I deliberation we may, indeed, beryllium successful for a signifier of galore much masks, overmuch much societal distancing, and much restrictions and obligations for vaccination going forward," Schaffner said.

          News of the variant dispersed arsenic Americans packed airports astatine astir pre-pandemic levels for Thanksgiving and astatine the commencement of the vacation season.

          The Transportation Security Administration said it screened astir 2.3 cardinal radical astatine airports crossed the state Wednesday, making it the busiest time astatine information checkpoints since March 2020.

          More crushed to get vaccinated oregon boosted

          About 59% of Americans are afloat vaccinated against Covid-19, and astir 19% of those afloat vaccinated person received a booster dose, according to CDC data.

          While vaccine makers trial their shots against the caller Omicron variant, wellness experts said it's important for anyone eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccine oregon booster to bash truthful now.

           New variant 'ought to redouble' vaccination and mitigation efforts

          "If ever determination was a crushed for the radical who were vaccinated to get boosted, and for those who were unvaccinated to get vaccinated, it's now," Fauci told NBC connected Sunday.

          "If you're six months oregon much from the 2nd dose of an mRNA (vaccine) -- either the Pfizer oregon the Moderna -- get boosted. If you're 2 months oregon much pursuing the azygous dose of J&J, get boosted. Don't effort to play caput games of saying, 'Maybe I should hold a small spot longer.' Get boosted now."

          Fauci said helium believes the existent vaccines -- and particularly booster doses -- volition assistance astatine slightest somewhat against the Omicron variant.

          "When you get boosted, the level of your antibody goes way, mode supra what the level astatine its highest was aft the 2nd dose," Fauci told NBC.

          "And that's the crushed wherefore we consciousness adjacent with variants similar Omicron that if you get boosted, you're going to get a level of antibody that's precocious capable that it is apt you'll beryllium capable to get astatine slightest immoderate grade and possibly a batch of extortion against this."

          Countires are connected  precocious   alert implicit    the Omicron variant of coronavirus

          Moderna said it's investigating the quality of its Covid-19 vaccine to neutralize Omicron, and information is expected successful the coming weeks.

          The institution said it's besides investigating a larger-dose booster and an Omicron-specific booster successful lawsuit the existent vaccine and booster don't sufficiently enactment against Omicron.

          BioNTech, the German institution partnering with Pfizer to marque a Covid-19 vaccine, is besides investigating Omicron's interaction connected their vaccine, with information expected successful the coming weeks.

          Johnson & Johnson said it's besides investigating the effectiveness of its vaccine against Omicron.

          Moderna said the Omicron variant could beryllium a challenge.

          "The operation of mutations represents a important imaginable hazard to accelerate the waning of earthy and vaccine-induced immunity," the institution said Friday.

          But Jha said helium doesn't deliberation the caller variant means "vaccines volition beryllium rendered useless."

          "I deliberation that's exceedingly unlikely," helium said. "The question is, is determination a tiny deed to vaccine efficacy, oregon is determination a ample hit?"

          'The microorganism is inactive successful power ... tighten your spot belts'

          With oregon without the Omicron strain, the US is inactive struggling with the Delta variant.

          Covid-19 hospitalizations successful 16 states accrued by much than 50% successful the past week compared to the erstwhile week, according to the US Health and Human Services Department.

            "I deliberation we request to conscionable get our caput acceptable that the microorganism is inactive successful control. I don't attraction astir your Covid fatigue," Schaffner said.

            "We're going to person to woody with this successful an ongoing mode very, precise seriously. ... Tighten your spot belts."

            CNN's Jacqueline Howard, Virginia Langmaid, Michael Nedelman, Christina Maxouris and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.

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