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Omicron could affect US 'maybe in a month,' Palm Beach County doctor says

Unclear how well boosters will protect against new variant
Omicron variant
Posted at 4:53 PM, Nov 30, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Some of the top doctors in the U.S. said Tuesday there's no evidence yet that the omicron variant has reached American yet.

Health leaders said there is still a lot to learn about the new variant.

According to the CDC, early data from South African researchers suggests it could be more transmissible and already dozens of mutations of the variant have been found.

The new strain of COVID-19 has been found in 20 countries so far.

"We'll probably see some effects of it maybe in a month," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Leslie Diaz.

Diaz said right now we know the variant is more contagious.

Dr. Leslie Diaz, speaks about omicron variant
Dr. Leslie Diaz shares her thoughts on when she thinks the omicron variant will start to impact the U.S.

"Do we have any information on how severe or how mild the symptoms for this new variant are?" asked WPTV reporter Michelle Quesada.

"No, there's no really collective information that is out in the public yet to know that," Diaz said.

WPTV emailed the Palm Beach County Health Department to learn how the omicron variant will be detected if it does surface locally.

Currently, we are waiting on more details regarding that question.

"How did you notice when you were dealing with something different when delta came around?" Quesada asked.

"You know immediately because the numbers will start going up again," Diaz said. "The numbers of hospitalizations will start going up again."

Diaz said it's unclear how well boosters will protect against the new variant but said it's the best weapon we have.

Joshua LeRoy, received COVID-19 booster shot
Joshua LeRoy says he has received his booster shot against COVID-19 and urges others to do so as well.

Joshua LeRoy got his booster shot even before the new variant emerged.

"I hope that my vaccine protects me, and I hope that other people will get vaccinated so this variant won't become a problem," LeRoy said.

Diaz said it's reassuring that more than half of the state is currently fully vaccinated.

"I know Palm Beach County is about 70-72 percent vaccinated with dual vaccine, which is a decent number, but it's not the ideal number that you need to put the omicron dead on its tracks," Diaz said.