DENVER (KDVR) — Now that the omicron variant has been detected in Arapahoe County, doctors are weighing in on how concerned Coloradans should be about it.
The news of Colorado’s first case was a big enough deal for Gov. Jared Polis to announce it in a press conference Thursday afternoon. However, when asked if it was a significant finding, UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital’s Dr. Richard Zane said, “no.”
“It’s not significant. The assumptions was 99.9% [that] by the time they identified this in South Africa, it existed in the United States probably for weeks, maybe even months,” Zane said.
“There are far more people with this variant than the one person we found,” he added.
Zane said omicron itself, however, is significant because it is considered a “variant of concern,” like the delta variant.
“The reason why it’s of concern is because it’s very, very different,” he said.
What health experts know about omicron
According to Zane, the only thing health experts know about it for sure is that they can test for it.
“Do vaccines and immunity work? The answer is, we don’t know yet. Do therapeutics work? The answer is, we don’t know yet. Is it more infectious? The answer is, it appears to be so, but we’re not quite sure. Does it make you sicker? We don’t know yet,” he said.
Of the three confirmed cases in the U.S. so far, including the case in Colorado, all of people are vaccinated and have only experienced mild symptoms.
FOX31 asked: Should Coloradans be concerned about omicron?
“Those people who are vaccinated or have been recently boosted and are using normal precautions, I would not be concerned,” Zane said.
On the flip side, he said, “” would be exceptionally concerned if I were not vaccinated or had not gotten my booster.”
He is urging all unvaccinated Coloradans to get a shot to protect themselves from the variant.
‘Absolutely no reason to panic’
“I’ll tell you what they shouldn’t be doing. They shouldn’t be panicking. There’s absolutely no reason to panic,” Zane said.
FOX31 also asked if omicron could have an impact on the day-to-day lives of Coloradans now that it has been detected in the community.
“We have to be able to pivot, which means when things get more prevalent, meaning there’s more spread, we need more masking. When it goes away, we need less masking,” Zane said. “We are not going back to square one. Maybe we take a few steps back and more steps forward, but we are now going back to square one.”