By Zhihui Zou 4:59 am PST

For now, despite causing comparatively less severe symptoms than older Covid-19 variants, the newest Omicron variant spreads 70 times faster than all other Covid viruses. In addition, studies predict that Omicron has a high chance of becoming vaccine-resistant.

According to a University of Hong Kong study, the Omicron variant causes fewer lung infections, “which may be an indicator of lower disease severity.” But Dr. Michael Chan Chi-wai, the lead researcher of the study, still warns that “it is important to note that the severity of disease in humans is not determined only by virus replication but also by the host immune response to the infection.”

“By infecting many more people, a very infectious virus may cause more severe disease and death even though the virus itself may be less pathogenic. Therefore, taken together with our recent studies showing that the Omicron variant can partially escape immunity from vaccines and past infection, the overall threat from the Omicron variant is likely to be very significant.”

Both the general public, having already undergone almost two years of Covid-19-related ordeals, and scientists are worried about this “mild” variant’s long-term destruction to the human body. The study is currently under vigorous peer-review.

The Omicron variant was first detected in Africa in November 2021, and the first Omicron case in the United States appeared around a week after. As of December 17, Omicron has spread to 39 states, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

Another study conducted by more than 20 scientists at Columbia University discovered that Omicron might “greatly compromise” the vaccine because of “a striking feature of this variant is the large number of spike mutations.”

“Even a third booster shot may not adequately protect against Omicron infection,” the Columbia University study said. “But of course it is advisable to do so.”

The study concludes with a warning that future Covid-19 variants could become “pan-resistant,” since Omicron is “now only a mutation or two away from being pan-resistant to current antibodies.”

This study is also currently under peer-review.

As of December 16, there have been more than 50,000,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 802,000 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data.