Infectious disease expert says omicron discovery 'not a time for panic'

Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Monday that the discovery of the new COVID-19 omicron variant is “not a time for panic,” emphasizing that there is still much to learn about the mutated strain.

The World Health Organization on Friday labeled the omicron variant, which was first identified in South Africa, a variant of concern. The strain has been found in a number of countries across the globe.

Adalja said there is not much the general public can do as the variant begins to spread other than get vaccinated, emphasizing the need for health officials to first gather information about the strain to learn about its infectiousness, severity and other key details.

“There really is not a lot that the general public can do but wait because science has to kind of progress at its own pace. I think we have to take this seriously, however, and we have to understand where this variant fits into the whole family of variants that we've dealt with,” Adalja said during an appearance on Hill.TV’s “Rising.”

“This is something that's really urgent to understand but I think it's not a time for panic, it's a time to allow science to do what it does, and for us to do what we know works, by  getting vaccinated, by continuing to really be mindful about the COVID-19 risk that's out there,” he added. 

Watch a clip of Adalja's interview above.