Make your home page

Indy doc weighs in on omicron variant, says not enough evidence to determine mutation’s risk

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The omicron variant has stirred up fear across the globe.

Evidence suggests that the mutation originated in South Africa with cases also detected in Denmark, Australia and Canada among other territories.

It appears to have a record number of mutations on its spike protein — 50 and counting.

No omicron cases have been detected in the U.S. to date.

Aside from those three facts, little is know about the new mutation.

The world has seen dozens of COVID-19 mutations since the start of the pandemic. Some have taken hold in countries across the world while others have fizzled upon arrival to the U.S.

According to Dr. Shaun Grannis, vice president of data and analytics at the Regenstrief Institute, omicron could be one of them.

“There was a beta and lambda variant that did gain some some attention just like omicron is at this point,” Grannis told News 8. “But they didn’t really spread, and that’s why we need to take a deep breath, pause, gather the data and then better understand the best approach to this new variant.”

But what if omicron can escape from immunity? Should this be the case, Grannis assures that scientists are prepared to tweak the vaccines so the mutation doesn’t evade protection.

“We actually have the genetic sequence … and vaccine manufacturers are saying they can likely have a version of the vaccination within 100 days,” he added.

Understanding the mutation’s genetic sequence is key. It allows scientists to respond to and develop an updated version of the COVID-19 shots if necessary.

Data about omicron’s true threat should be out in the next week or so. Once evidence is available, Grannis says only then will authorities gather to determine next steps.