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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Concerns growing over coronavirus omicron variant

Posted at 9:30 AM, Nov 29, 2021

(WXYZ) — Concerns are growing about the new coronavirus Omicron variant as cases pop up around the globe.

The newest announcement comes from Portugal where 13 cases have been confirmed at a soccer club where only one player traveled to South Africa.

In Ontario, health officials confirm they have identified two cases of the variant in Ottawa, and Dr. Anthony Fauci said it's only a matter of time until the variant is in the United States.

The State of Michigan is constantly sequencing COVID-19 test samples. So far, none of the tests show signs of the omicron variant in Michigan.

Doctors across the country are racing to learn more about the COVID-19 variant omicron. It spreads quicker than other forms of the coronavirus.

"The omicron variant has 50 mutations and delta only had 10 mutations. Chances are this variant is going to be quite a bit more transmissible," Dr. Molly O'Shea with Birmingham Pediatrics said. "Whether it's more severe, we are going to have to wait and see."

That could take several weeks to determine how contagious the new variant is and if it is already here in the United States.

Neighboring Ontario identified two cases in Ottawa on Sunday night.

President Joe Biden's administration enacted a travel ban to South Africa and seven other countries amid the news of the variant.

It's also too early to tell how effective vaccines and treatments are against this new variant, which has sent drugmakers like Pfizer and Moderna scrambling to make sure the vaccines are still proactive.

"From what we can tell, although the vaccine that we have available right now may not neutralize this virus completely, it will have some effect against this variation of the virus as well," O'Shea said.

If the vaccine proves ineffective against the new variant, Pfizer said it will have the ability to produce a new vaccine targeted toward it and can have it ready in 100 days.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

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