UCSD

Research Suggests Omicron Case Surge in San Diego County

UC San Diego researchers are using a special variant test to more quickly assess what variant may be involved in a positive COVID-19 case. The more time-consuming genetic sequencing is used later to confirm the results.

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We know omicron is here in San Diego County, but UC San Diego research suggests it is surging.

“We have a lot of Omicron already, so we don’t want people to think Omicron is coming," said Doctor David Pride, the director of the clinical microbiology lab at UC San Diego Health. “Probably the correct way to look at this is omicron is already here and is increasing.”

Before doing the more time-consuming sequencing of the virus, scientists are running variant tests on the virus taken from the positive cases of students, patients and some employees. While acknowledging that population is not perfectly reflective of the general population in San Diego, Doctor Pride says the findings are telling.

“Our results strongly suggest we’re seeing a sharp increase in omicron variant right now," Price said.

Doctor Pride said omicron may take over the Delta variant.

“What we’re observing is omicron is taking over from delta and what that means Is, it’s very very likely Omicron will  be the new version of the virus San Diego will deal with in the coming months.”

While we have heard omicron may make people less sick, it also spreads faster. Price said more people getting a less virulent virus does not mean more people will acquire more immunity. It is not certain whether the immune system protects against getting the virus more than once. Plus, he said, “Omicron is a highly mutated version of this virus. It may mutate more, and one of the questions is if we let this pass through our population full of vulnerable people, what is the next variant going to be?"

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