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Doctor believes new COVID variant already in Florida

Omicron variant
Posted at 10:31 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 00:37:33-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Omicron is here in America. The variant came from South Africa. The person carrying it traveled from the African nation on Nov. 20 and by the 29th they tested positive in San Francisco.

"It came from South Africa and probably in an immune-suppressed infected person, probably someone with HIV," Dr. Ira Longini a professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida said.

He said Omicron has currently spread to at least 25 countries including the U.S.

"Omicron has about 50 mutations and the delta variant only 4 or 5. It has many mutations," he said.

Doctors in South Africa, like Dr. Angelique Coetzee, said they've seen vaccinated people with mild symptoms.

RELATED: Detecting omicron in Florida: How will it work?

"The majority of what we are presenting to primary healthcare practitioners are extremely mild cases so it's mild to moderate. And so, these patients mean they don't need to be hospitalized for now," she said.

So, does this new variant make the current vaccines ineffective that critical question remains to be answered?

"Probably there will be reduced protection from current vaccines and prior immunity. We just don't know how much yet," Dr. Longini said.

Dr. Longini said he believes the Omicron variant is already here in Florida. He believes one way to fight this new variant is to get vaccinated.