New COVID-19 Variant Emerges

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A man receives a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine in the capital city of Johannesburg, South Africa. (Image courtesy of Denis Farrell/AP)

Luis Ortiz

Because COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, many issues have risen, including an alarming new variant, Omicron. Last December, vaccinations were available to the public from the companies Pfizer and Moderna. The vaccines have proven to be effective tools in battling the pandemic and its many variants.  However, the discovery of the new variant that originated in South Africa has raised alarms in the international community and high-ranked doctors at the World Health Organization and at home, like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Meanwhile, President Biden addressed the nation from the White House on November 29 regarding the emergence of Omicron.  The first confirmed Omicron case in the United States was detected in California on December 1. 

“Sooner or later we’re going to see cases of this new variant here in the United States. We’ll have to face this new threat just as we face those who have come before it,” he says. “If people are vaccinated and wear their mask, there’s no need for lockdown.” 

Still, this leaves many people and many nations worried for the future. For many, COVID cases were decreasing steadily, but now, there might be a surge of new cases. Whether or not the vaccines will be proven effective against this new variant is still up for debate. 

In addition, the U.S. banned all air travel to non-U.S citizens and residents. The European Union, an international organization that comprises 27 of the countries from that continent, also took action with regard to this. Even with all of the restrictions imposed, several countries around the world, including half-dozen nations in the EU have detected at least 1 case of the new variant. Other places that Omicron has managed to land in are Australia, Israel, Hong Kong, Canada, Brazil, and the United Kingdom — the latter not being part of the EU. Brazil recorded the first known case in Latin America on November 30.

The restrictions that wealthy nations imposed have not gone unnoticed by African leaders.

“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to and also to recover from the pandemic,” says South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa.