It is a complicated laboratory process that CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports is key is to understand how contagious and how serious a disease the strain can cause.READ MORE: Acacia Network Chief Medical Officer Offers Insight On COVID's Impact In The Bronx
Health officials around the world are concerned about the new variant because it has a never-before-seen number of mutations in the genes that code for the spike proteins which the virus uses to enter human cells.
- New York State book online here or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX
- New York City book online here or call 877-VAX-4NYC
- Track NYC vaccinations by zip code
- Nassau County more info here
- Suffolk County more info here
- Westchester County more info here
- New Jersey book online here or call 1-855-568-0545
- Connecticut book online here
Labs around the U.S., like the Pandemic Response Lab just outside New York City, are testing to see where else Omicron will pop up, now that the Centers for Disease Control has confirmed a case in California.READ MORE: Concerned New Jersey Parents Call For Remote Learning Option Amid COVID Surge
Of the hundreds of thousands of positive PCR COVID tests weekly, the U.S. sequences the genetic code of about 80,000 of them, looking for the mutations that make it an Omicron or other variant. That helps determine how fast the variant virus is spreading and how infectious it is.
- Complete COVID Vaccine Coverage
- Vaccination Sites In New York City | Call 877-VAX-4NYC
- Track NYC Vaccinations By Zip Code
- Find NYC Testing Site Near You
- Check NYC Testing Wait Times
- CDC’S COVID Vaccine FAQ
- CDC’s COVID Tracking Map By County
- Resources: Help With Unemployment, Hunger, Mental Health & More
- Remote Learning Tools For Students And Parents At Home
Right now, the Delta variant makes up more than 99% of tested cases worldwide, and Delta took over very fast.
“Thinking back on that, I think it was probably six-to-eight weeks from the time we first sort of saw it and then really saw it take off, and it took off very quickly,” the Pandemic Response Lab’s Jon Laurent said.MORE NEWS: 'Rumors Of Our Death Are Wildly Exaggerated': Broadway League President Optimistic Despite Sales Slump
The possibility is that Omicron, with its many mutations, could quickly out-compete the Delta variant and become the dominant COVID-causing virus. The fear is that if Omicron also causes more severe disease, or can evade present vaccines, we could be in for a very unpleasant winter. We’ll know more about how this new variant will impact the pandemic in the next couple of weeks.