Charleston, South Carolina – South Carolina officially became the state with positive Omicron cases on Wednesday, but the fast-spreading variant might have been here for weeks, experts say.
Scientists at MUSC’s Molecular Pathology Laboratory have been processing positive COVID-19 samples on a weekly basis to check for mutations and variants of concern. This week, their sequencing team detected the first three cases of Omicron variant in South Carolina.
“It is three cases, all of them in the Lowcountry. Two out the three were fully vaccinated, but not boosted, and one had only one dose of the vaccine,” lab director Dr. Julie Hirschhorn said.
All three samples were taking from positive Covid-19 patients in the Lowcountry area. That said, one sample was from a Charleston patient, the second sample was from a North Charleston case and the third one was from John Island.
State’s health experts believe that the Omicron variant has been in the state for weeks now since one of the samples that tested positive on Omicron was from a patient that tested positive on Covid-19 on December 4. For now, these three cases remain the only known Omicron cases in South Carolina.
MUSC will join the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s briefing at 2 p.m. to provide information on the discovery, what they know about the three cases and what this means for our community during the holidays.
According to the data released by the CDC, the first Omicron case in the country was identified on December 1st. A week later, Omicron variant cases were reported in more than 22 states and many believe that number is even higher up to date.
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 800,000 Tuesday, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
As we approach the holidays, people are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Health experts don’t only encourage those unvaccinated, but they also push the fully vaccinated to get their booster dose as soon as possible in an effort to improve their immunity before the holiday family gatherings and stay safe against the Omicron variant.
For more Covid-19 related data and vaccination sites, please visit DHEC’s website.