Local health experts weigh in on omicron COVID-19 variant

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County health officials say preliminary evidence suggests the new omicron variant could be more contagious, but it is still too early to tell at this time.

Regardless of the variants we’ve seen up to this point, experts say getting vaccinated with the current vaccines available is still your best bet in order to stay protected.

“I would say at this point, we just need to behave just like we were urging people to do with delta,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Garold Minns said.

Dr. Minns says he was not surprised to hear of another variant deemed one of concern by the World Health Organization.

“So the more infections we have everywhere in the world, the more this virus is going to undergo mutations—so the more we can suppress infections, the less mutations will occur,” Dr. Minns said.

Sedgwick County Health Director Adrienne Byrne says more information will be released in the next two to three weeks regarding omnicron and how effective current vaccines are against that variant.

“We do know that the PCR tests, you know, the gold standard, that they continue to detect infection for this variant—and then studies are underway to see whether other types of tests, such as the rapid antigen, detect it as well,” Byrne said.

For more information on how to get a vaccine in Sedgwick County, click here.

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