‘We simply cannot let our guard down now;’ State health expert on COVID-19, future variants

While some areas of Ohio are starting to hit their peak of this Omicron surge, state health experts are already look ahead to the next Covid variant.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said COVID-19 would not be going away “for the foreseeable future.”

“We simply cannot let our guard down now,” Vanderhoff said.

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He said the latest variant impacting the state, Omicron, represents “an evolution of the virus.”

The World Health Organization outlined that evolution of the variant. The Beta variant was first detected in May 2020. In September of that same year, Alpha was detected. Both Alpha and Beta were designated on Dec. 18, 2020.

The Delta variant was first documented in October 2022, while the Gamma variant was first documented in November 2020. A year later, in November 2021, the Omicron variant was first detected.

Vanderhoff said we have to “anticipate that there are going to be other variants.”

News Center 7′s Candace Price asked Vanderhoff how sure health officials and experts are that vaccinations can protect people against any new variants.

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“Vaccines have worked. Vaccines have continued to work,” Vanderoff replied.

He continued saying that it did not mean that “any given individual is not going to get sick.”

Dr. Roberto Colon, Chief Medical Officer at Miami Valley Hospital, said there is something we can do to help prevent new variants in the near future.

“Adding to the immunity right now, reducing the opportunity for this virus to go to other people and help generate a new variant can actually reduce the onset of a new variant in the near future,” Colon said.