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San Diego expert weighs in on omicron variant, effect on holiday plans

Posted at 6:25 AM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 09:25:24-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A San Diego infectious disease expert said getting vaccinated will help in impeding the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season as a new variant reaches U.S. soil.

Dr. Davey Smith, the Chief of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at UC San Diego, said of the omicron variant: "Omicron is different than the other variants because it has a lot more mutations in it, and that's become a little worrisome.”

Smith told ABC 10News that as the holiday season continues and people likely participate in gatherings, they need to be cautious.

RELATED: 1st case of omicron variant identified in California, officials say

"The best way we can do to keep this outbreak from happening and cramp our lifestyles from visiting people who we love is really the vaccines. That's our best defense, at the moment,” Smith said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom echoed the same sentiment on Wednesday as he prompted vaccinations at an elementary school clinic when news that the new variant was discovered in California broke.

"And to do what is required of us, and that’s using our common sense through the holidays to protect ourselves and to enjoy our loved ones at the same time,” Newsom said.

RELATED: San Diego scientists race to help other labs study omicron variant

The new COVID-19 variant is the latest twist and turn in the pandemic, but Smith said the public can learn from the past to help make way for a less frightening future.

"I think that we've gotten smarter about this. We see the virus coming, we see outbreaks happening. The good news, at least for omicron, is it's going to happen in Europe first,” Smith said. “And we'll see how it happens in their winter, in their flu seasons and that'll give us some gauge as to what we should do here."

Smith is also encouraging people to get their flu shot along with COVID-19 boosters during this time when gatherings can happen.