EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The COVID-19 Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa, is rapidly spreading in the United States, with more than two dozen states already seeing infections, in addition to the general upswing of the virus.

However, according to Frank Contacessa, M.D. otherwise known as Dr. Frank, there is no need to panic.

Dr. Frank states that if the early reports are accurate, Omicron is a highly transmissible virus that causes symptoms that are mild.

”The data that we are getting from other parts of the world and starting here now is that it seems to be a very mild form of Covid. It seems to be on the level of a common cold. You would typically get a runny nose maybe a mild cough and a low grade fever as opposed to the shortness of breath heavy cough and potential respiratory distress that we were seeing with the earlier forms of Covid.”

FRANK CONTACESSA, M.D.

Additionally Dr. Frank says the current vaccines do not appear to have an effect on Omicron.

“When your immune system sees the actual virus it will respond to different components of the virus. Where as we are targeting one specific section with the current batch of vaccines,” he shares. “In the beginning they were quite effective, I don’t want to give the idea that I’m anti-vaccine. I’m certainly not, but they have been showing diminishing efficacy as time goes on.”

Dr. Frank also said, research shows that even if you are vaccinated you can still contract and spread the virus, However, he does feel that those in high risk categories should continue to get vaccinated,

“If somebody has underlying conditions, if you’re elderly, if you are immuno-compromised you should continue to be careful. You should practice social distancing, you should make sure if you’re in a public setting that you do wear a mask. If you’re younger and healthier, go about your day. Go about your business. It’s time to stop panicking. It’s not going away. There will never be a post Covid time, it will be with us forever. It’s time to get back to business as usual.”

But, he adds that they should be made aware of the possible adverse effects of the vaccine,

“The VAERS system does indicate that there are some potential risks. Are the risks worth taking? Well that’s something we’re going to have to look at going forward. Nothing’s free. I think the message hasn‘t gotten out enough that there are some potential risks. But I think we need to be honest with people and people are smart. They can make intelligent decisions.

Frank Contacessa, M.D.

Also, taking care of one’s health is the first step in fighting off disease, Dr. Frank shares.

“The biggest co-morbidity that we see with serious illness and death is obesity. I’ve had elderly people do very well if they’re of normal weight and I’ve had younger people do poorly [if they are overweight.]”

With Omicron getting closer to El Paso, KTSM 9 spoke with residents. Some showed some concern, others had no concern at all.

El Paso resident Servando Hernandez shared, “I worry about it because all the inoculations we’ve had the first two we did the booster that was all anti-Covid. And now comes along the third shot. I just don’t know. My biggest worry is that most people aren’t taking it too seriously, at least not in the States”

As for Joshua Lintz, he feels it’s all about personal responsibility,

“Concerned? Maybe not so much. Honestly I feel like there is some amount of personal responsibility. Personally not so worried about it but obviously for people that are high risk it’s an important consideration.

And Heath Charles doesn’t have any concerns at all

“No I’m not scared, because I’ve already had Covid once. I think its something that if you’re gonna get it your gonna get it.”

For his part, Dr. Frank wants to send the message that there is no need to panic when it comes to the Omicron variant.

“There is no reason to panic. We were all panicked at the beginning of 2020, myself included. It was a scary time but we are moving forward. The virus is becoming less virulent. We all have to get back to our lives and our loved ones. Its not healthy that we isolate and certainly from young people up to the elderly it’s time to get back to our families and our lives.”

FRANK CONTACESSA, M.D.

For updated information on COVID-19, visit the CDC website

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