LANL scientists analyze Omicron variant

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LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – Scientists at Los Alamos National Lab say the Omicron variant and changing human behavior are two big variables to predict what’s coming next in the pandemic.

"We’re going to see a lot more cases for a bit longer,” said Pat Fitch, a lab director at Los Alamos National Lab.

Fitch oversees a team of scientists at the LANL, and for nearly two years, they’ve been racing to unlock the mysteries of COVID.

"Right now, if we look at the Omicron variant that’s coming, or partially here, we have to update everything from epidemiological models to molecular models of the virus itself and ask tough questions."

He said the good news is teams likes his – have gotten better and faster at sharing info from around the world and analyzing how the virus changes.

Omicron is more contagious than any other variant, but appears to be less severe.

"There’s evidence that would support that fact that the hospitalization rates will not be going up and they might actually going be down," Fitch said. "Even if the hospitalization rates are going down or holding steady, there’s still going to be more people that may need a hospital bed – so I think that’s a likely view of the next month."

Hospitals will continue to be stressed, but with more people getting sick and recovering, KOB 4 asked if that could bring a silver lining.

"I’d love to be able to say I have scientific evidence to say that the high infectivity rate of the Omicron variant is going to end up being, in the end, an effective vaccine. It’s going to create the immunity we need for the next wave to burn out. I don’t know the answer to that – but what I do know, is right before Delta came out there was several studies, including one in Kentucky that showed that the vaccine was more effective at protecting than previous infection was."

Fitch said the vaccine remains the best tool to limiting risk – and it’s unknown how the virus will change next.

"We’re all tired of it, but now is not the time to roll the dice and stop. I think that’s the punch line."