ENC doctors weigh in on Omicron variant

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – President Joe Biden gave an update to the country about the Omicron variant on Monday. Doctors in Eastern North Carolina are also looking into what the new variant could mean for the east.

“I think the timing is surprising but I don’t think it is surprising that there is a new variant,” said Dr. Ron May, CarolinaEast Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs. “There are billions of people who are susceptible to this virus, and viruses will mutate, they will change.”

Health experts say right now they don’t have much information on this new variant.

“There does appear to be some data that it is much more infectious than the delta variant,” said Dr. Paul Cook, ECU Brody School of Medicine Professor and Chief of Infectious Diseases. “Whether or not it is as bad as the delta variant, we just don’t know yet.”

Cook says the discovery in South Africa could be a good sign.

“At least the persons that were affected in the Southern parts of Africa were younger people and younger people tend to do better with this infection than older people,” Cook said. “I think these travel restrictions are probably a good idea, but they are only so effective.”

Cook says even with the restrictions, the Omicron could make its way to the east soon.

“Dr. Fallon who is a doctor in the medical school has a very good team that is on top of this stuff and doing sequencing,” he said. “I suspect we will see some cases of this in the not too distant future but time will tell.”

With the lack of information, Cook and May advise people not to let their guard down.

“The bottom line is we don’t have enough information about this specific variant to know how deadly or dangerous this is going to be,” Cook said. “In the wintertime, it’s going to be more of a problem because the gatherings tend to be inside where ventilation is not good. We are absolutely concerned about this with Christmas and New Years coming up.”

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