What We Know About the Omicron Variant


Donald Alcendor, PhD, joins to review currently available data surrounding the newest COVID-19 variant of concern, and shares guidance for concerned clinicians and the general public.

Episode highlights

0:14 Intro
1:02 The Omicron COVID-19 variant
2:16 What is the current threat?
5:11 How will vaccines fare?
8:50 Improving global COVID-19 response equity
11:02 Is US genomic sequencing up to the task?
13:20 Prioritizing COVID-19 testing during flu season
16:48 Outlook on keeping COVID-19 at bay
20:54 The ideal public health message
22:53 Final thoughts
24:33 Outro

The Omnicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been observed in the US for a little more than a week now, and in its short time of relevance, it has become a primary concern in the 2-year fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

As genomic sequencing tracks its spread across states, federal authorities set travel mandates, and vaccine developers rush clinical assessment of available prophylaxes versus the variant of concern, experts and laypeople alike are pursuing the same question: how big of a threat is the Omicron variant?

This newest episode of DocTalk sets to answer that question as best as possible at the moment. Donald Alcendor, PhD, vaccinologist and immunologist from Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, joins the show to discuss varying clinical and public health issues surrounding Omicron, and to give his perspective on its threat of breakthrough infections in fully-vaccinated persons, the need for improved vaccine equity across the globe, and what a highly transmissible variant may spell for the US headed into the middle of this flu season.

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