Omicron variant remains a mystery; experts say getting vaccinated is still the best defense

The new omicron variant is still a mystery. Scientists across the world are working to determine what the symptoms are, how contagious it is compared to previous strains and whether it causes more severe disease.

Perhaps the biggest unknown is how effective vaccines will be against this new variant, KSTP medical expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou said.

"The new variant has 32 mutations in the spike protein," she said. "Vaccines have been designed to attack the spike protein, so if it looks different … the vaccines may not recognize it. It’s like putting a square peg in a round hole."

Monday afternoon the Minnesota Department of Health released a statement saying "no cases have been reported in Minnesota or the U.S." and that "the most important thing we can do to prepare is to ensure everyone is vaccinated."

In an address Monday, President Joe Biden said his team has already been working with personnel at Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in case there are adjustments that need to be made with the vaccine.