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What Do You Need To Know About The New COVID Variant Omicron?

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- As more cases emerge across the world of the newfound Omicron variant of the coronavirus, it has yet to make its way to the United States.

Doctors told KDKA the new variant of COVID-19 actually isn't surprising at all and that new variants are common in viruses.

So here is what you can expect in these coming months as the country prepares for another possible wave of COVID-19.

A growing number of countries are scrambling to figure out how to deal with the newest variant of COVID-19.

And local doctors are joining the effort to figure out more details about the little-known Omicron variant.

"We don't know whether it is more transmissible, whether it causes more severe disease or not and whether our current vaccines to mitigate against COVID will be as effective against this variant," Dr. Arvind Venkat said.

Dr. Arvind Venkat is an emergency physician with Allegheny Health Network.

He said the evolution of viruses is common.

And it's very likely that current measures of mitigation like vaccines and wearing masks will have some effect of reducing transmission.

"Where the danger comes is if people throw up their hands and say well there's going to be another variant and therefore there's nothing I can do to protect myself. I'm just going to go about my business without protecting myself."

But Venkat said don't expect any variation of covid to go anywhere soon.

"The honest message for everyone is that we're not going to get to COVID zero. In the history of medicine, we have never completely gotten rid of a respiratory virus."

However, he said we can get back to living our normal lives with minimal concern.

"What we can do is learn to protect ourselves and learn to live with it and have as normal of a life as we can. If we can get our vaccination rates up and our boosted vaccination rates up, if we can continue to test and get our genomic sequences more rapidly available and we all recognize this is a common purpose that we have to move forward with."

Venkat said from a medical standpoint, it's not the evolving COVID variants that cause mental exhaustion, it's dealing with people who won't protect themselves.

He said getting the vaccine and booster shot is within everybody's capacity and the fewer people he has to treat in the emergency room, the better.

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