Delta variant still a threat despite concerns over Omicron, health experts say


ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Health experts say they don’t know much about the Omicron variant right now, but the Delta variant is still a real threat.

“The Omicron variant is something that’s been identified very recently as a variant of concern,” said Dr. Steve Lawrence, a Washington University infectious disease specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

He said even though the new Omicron variant hasn’t been traced in the United States yet, people should still take it seriously.

“We don’t know yet if it’s going to be as serious a public health threat,” said Lawrence. “It could be, but we just don’t know yet. So, while we’re watching the Omicron variant very carefully, we shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of the Delta variant and those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.”

The Saint Louis Metropolitan Task Force said hospitalizations have increased above 300 patients per day across the region. 

The Task Force released the following statement: “We are concerned about the increase in COVID-19 cases in the St. Louis region and want to remind the community the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated. If you have not yet received your COVID-19 booster shot, we encourage everyone to get one to increase your immunity. Remember, if you have any symptoms get tested and stay away from others to avoid spreading the virus to others. We must all remain vigilant to protect our community from another surge.” 

Christopher Ave, with the St. Louis County Health Department, said they’ve seen an increase in people getting vaccines and boosters.

“It’s really too early for us to dependably say that the recent news of the Omicron variant has had an impact,” said Ave. “Just anecdotally, our main clinic where we’re standing in front of right now was busy today. I saw a line out the door of the room where people would get vaccinated.”

Lawrence said there is early data that indicates Omicron may fight against the vaccine — but scientists will need to research thousands of cases to know for sure. 

For updates and information on the vaccine and boosters, you can visit

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