DENVER (KDVR) — A new coronavirus variant has been traced to parts of Europe and Africa but doctors in Colorado said they’re already working to track it locally.
Doctors believe the omicron variant of the coronavirus will eventually arrive in Colorado.
The nose swab, or PCR test, is what doctors said they’re using to track new variants of the coronavirus.
“What they do is they’ll pick random samples of COVID PCR tests that have been brought in,” Dr. Carrie Horn said.
Horn, who is the chief medical officer at National Jewish Health, said COVID-positive samples then have their genome sequence mapped.
“(We) try to see, does that match with the original version of the virus or with the delta variant or is it matching one of the new variants that have been identified or it completely different,” Horn said.
Recent travel restrictions are a measure to keep any new variant from spreading faster than it can be traced.
“With how people move around in our society and how global we are as a society, it’s really hard to follow that,” Horn said.
Horn said contact tracing is one way they’re able to get control of where any new variants might be at a given moment.
“If there are a lot of cases that everyone said ‘Oh I was at this place,’ that can give us a clue as to transmission,” Horn said.
Expecting the unwelcome outcome of the omicron variant arriving in Colorado helps medical professionals prepare to treat it and trace it.
“It’s likely that it already is here or if not it will be here very soon,” Horn said.
There is one concern that the virus might be resistant to current prevention methods.
“The concern is that if it has mutated too far, your vaccine may be a little bit less effective,” Horn said.
Tracing any cases of the omicron variant, or any new variants is a task Horn said the state has helped health workers like her, be prepared to handle.
“When omicron ultimately arrives, we’re going to be ready to identify it and catch it,” Horn said.
The best measure you can take is to be fully vaccinated and receive your booster, Horn said.
Anyone over the age of 18 in Colorado is currently eligible to receive it.