UNC Charlotte Sequencing Lab Searching For Omicron Covid Variant In Mecklenburg County
CHARLOTTE, NC – Charlotte area doctors and scientists at UNC Charlotte are increasing their workload to detect the new Omicron Covid variant.
“It’s only a matter of time before it gets here,” said Dr. Cynthia Gibas, a professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics at UNC Charlotte.
“What we’re waiting for when we are surveillance sequencing is signs of something different is happening. So signs of a variant that we haven’t seen before,” explained Dr. Gibas.
She and her team are working long hours and handling more than twice as many cases as they normally would.
“The workload last week versus this week has been vastly different. We’ve ramped up our sequencing capacity,” explained Jessica Schlueter, an associate professor within the department.
According to the latest information, the Omicron variant can be easily passed from one person to the next. Early indications are that it may not be any more severe than Delta. It’s still too early to tell and many questions remain.
“Whats the impact on vaccine efficacy and treatment for covid,” questioned Atrium Health Dr. Katie Passaretti.
Mecklenburg county is seeing a gradual increase of Covid hospitalizations and cases mostly due to the delta variant.
“The gradual uptick is related to gathering for the holidays, colder weather. People going inside. We have not seen any cases of omicron as of yet,” said Dr. Passaretti.
But scientists still stress getting vaccinated.
“The more we allow the virus to explore what possibilities there are for it to mutate. The more likely we’re going to see variant after variant after variant,” said Dr. Gibas.