The Omicron variant is a variant of the COVID-19 virus. Omicron variant is the common name used to refer to what is technically known as the B.1.1.529 variant. A variant of a virus is a new strain that has emerged due to a mutation (or mutations) in the virus’s genetic structure. Use and awareness of the name Omicron variant became more common in news reports and public health communications in late 2021, including those about whether it could potentially be more contagious or more severe than previous variants, such as the Delta variant.
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