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"Omicron Variant Adds new Peril to Holiday Season"

The Los Angeles Times interviewed Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of epidemiology and community health sciences, about the threat the newly-found COVID-19 Omicron variant poses to global public health

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A newly identified coronavirus variant that has sparked global restrictions on travel and shaken financial markets could make the critical holiday season even more perilous in California and across the nation.

Even before the Omicron variant was discovered, health officials were warning of a winter wave of COVID-19 as society regroups for holiday events and travel, and cold weather keeps more people indoors. While it’s not clear how dangerous the new variant is, it’s adding urgency to efforts to get more people vaccinated — and to get booster shots for those with waning immunity — and to follow masking and other safety rules, experts say.

“The new variant adds another reminder that there are more new variants out there that are potentially incubating,” said Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla. “So if anything, the silver lining of Omicron is it’s a wakeup call for all those people thinking we’re at the end of this. No, we’re not — not by any stretch, unfortunately.”