CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Pfizer and BioNTech launch a clinical trial for an Omicron-specific vaccine, public health leaders are tracking Omicron's spread in North Carolina through genomic sequencing.
A spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has told ABC11 that most COVID-19 cases do not undergo sequencing, the tool used to determine variants.
Rather, sequencing is used for population surveillance.
"Sequencing, even of a sample of the population, allows us to understand what kind of variants are emerging and the system's working; that's how we found out about Omicron so quickly," said Dr. David Wohl, infectious disease expert at UNC.
The latest data from NCDHHS showed Omicron represented 89% of sequenced viruses in North Carolina.
Wohl said current therapies are still helping to treat COVID-19 patients and current vaccines and boosters are working, too.
"If more and more people who get vaccinated with the vaccines we have now, we won't need an Omicron-specific vaccine because people won't be getting sick," said Wohl.
UNC expert: Current vaccines and boosters working against highly contagious Omicron