Omicron may be different, but many facts on the ground remain the same

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Let perspective get in the way of any panic.

Indeed, it's a formality that Omicron will overtake Delta as the dominant strain of COVID19 permeating through North Carolina, but the emerging data continues to reinforce the preeminent fact that being fully vaccinated - plus a booster dose - is remarkably effective at keeping people alive and out of the hospital.

"If it sees that red little ball with the red things for the third time, it's very well trained to then switch to a different shape," Dr. Dirk Dittmer, Director of the UNC Viral Genomics Core and member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, explained to ABC11. "If it sees it for the first time, there's no basis for comparison and that's why people get sick. If you've never driven backward, you're going to have a hard time, and you're going to hit something. The immune system is the same. If it's never seen a SARS coronavirus it will have a very hard time finding a response."

Dittmer is also a leading member of the CORVASEQ Surveillance Program -- a partnership between the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Health and the North Carolina Collaboratory -- that studies the variant sequencing of the novel coronavirus.

"The odds are you will be next to someone who will be extruding the virus, and that is different than Delta was and that's what we're preparing for," he added. "We're living in a time right now where you see more people every day than you've seen for the last six months. You've seen your family, you will see your family indoors and extended families will come together."

The Omicron variant was first identified last month and has since swept the national narrative about the pandemic, and now accounts for nearly three-quarters of all new infections nationwide.
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