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Omicron variant found in Oklahoma wastewater

(Associated Press (custom credit) | AP)
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 2:43 PM CST
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TULSA, Okla. (KSWO) - The Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 was discovered in sewage samples collected in Tulsa on Friday, Dec. 17.

According to OU Health, the discovery was made by OU, OU Health, Tulsa Health Department and the City of Tulsa.

Since September 2020, the team has been monitoring wastewater drainages in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and some smaller cities.

Public health officials said it’s important to get vaccinated or receive a booster shot due to the new variant spreading across the state.

“Although the Delta variant of COVID-19 is still the most dominant variant in Oklahoma currently, Omicron will most likely become the dominant variant in a few weeks or months,” Infectious Disease Epidemiologist Katrin Kuhn, at OU Health Sciences Center said. “The evidence thus far shows that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, so it is important that people get vaccinated if they’re not already, or get the booster if they’re eligible. Vaccinations are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death.”

Even though the Omicron variant appears to be more easily transmitted than the Delta variant, early evidence suggests that the symptoms of infection could be milder, Kuhn said.

“For viruses to survive in the human population, in time they often evolve to become more transmissible but less lethal in order to keep multiplying,” Kuhn said. “That’s actually good news. Even though we may have to learn to live with COVID-19 indefinitely, a positive scenario is for it to become milder and eventually turn into something like the common cold.”

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