(Baptist Health) – A new strain of the coronavirus, B.1.1.529, known as the Omicron variant, has spread to a number of countries, including the United States. The World Health Organization has declared Omicron a variant of concern. What does that mean for you? Here’s what we know so far.

Q. What is the Omicron variant?

A. The Omicron variant is a new strain of the coronavirus. It was first detected in South Africa. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 mutates, leading to new strains. The Omicron variant appears to have more mutations than most other strains, including Delta. These mutations may change the virus’s behavior.

Q. Is the Omicron variant more dangerous than other variants?

A. We don’t know yet. But scientists are working hard to find out. What we do know is that the Omicron variant seems to cause symptoms that are similar to those associated with other strains of the virus.

Q. Is the Omicron variant resistant to vaccines?

A. There is no evidence that Omicron is vaccine resistant. But this issue is being studied more closely. We should know more in the coming days and weeks.

Q. What can I do to protect myself from the Omicron variant?

A. You can reduce the risk of getting sick from any strain of COVID-19 with a few simple steps:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Wear a mask when you are indoors or in a busy outdoor space.
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people.
  • Make sure to get your COVID-19 vaccine. If you’re already vaccinated, get a booster shot.

Learn more

Do you have questions about COVID-19? You can find more advice and information in our Coronavirus topic center.