One local doctor said a lot more questions about the omicron variant must still be answered.
"I think, in general, we've been preparing at Penn State Health for what looks like is going to be a winter surge of COVID-19 cases, whether that's caused by delta or this new variant," said Dr. Catharine Paules, an infectious disease physician with Penn State Health.
Medical professionals around world are monitoring the omicron variant, after it was detected in southern Africa.
"It's very likely that we have right now or will have cases of this variant in the United States, and so we'll get more information as more cases occur," Paules said.
Around a dozen countries, including Canada, are reporting confirmed cases. Paules said omicron could potentially be more transmissible than other variants.
"This particular variant has some mutations in what's called the spike protein that potentially could make it either more transmissible and maybe even resistant to some of our current vaccines," Paules said. "I think in the upcoming weeks, we'll know more about the variant, how well the vaccines will protect against it, and whether this will be a big problem in the United States," she said.
As we wait to learn more about the variant, Paules said the general recommendation is to get vaccinated, if you have not done so already. She said now is also the time to get the booster dose, if you are eligible.
Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says its top focus right now is ensuring that Pennsylvanians have access to the vaccine, while the state Department of Health says it's more prepared now than it had been with all prior variants of the virus.