By Louisa Moller

PLYMPTON (CBS) – Omicron will become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S. in as little as 6 to 8 weeks, according to Dr. Stephen Kissler, a research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Kissler told reporters that scientists should know more about our immune response to Omicron in the next week or two but clues to its transmissibility and severity could take longer.

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“I anticipate that breakthrough infections will become even more common with the Omicron variant and that’s based off of some of the early information that we’re getting from South Africa,” Kissler said.

At this point, only one case of the Omicron variant has been discovered in Massachusetts. Officials say the Delta variant is behind a holiday surge causing the state to log 3,720 new cases and 51 deaths, according to the latest data.

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One of the towns that has seen a surge in cases is Plympton.

“Now, historically in this town we’ve been somewhere between 2 and 3 percent positivity rate. In the last week we’ve jumped to almost 12 percent,” said Plympton Fire Chief Stephen Silva.

Silva says more COVID in the community has not correlated to more hospitalizations yet. Instead, he says his EMS staff are seeing the secondary effects of the pandemic.

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“We see the fringe issues with COVID, increases in behavioral health problems, suicide attempts, increases in drug and alcohol use. That is global,” Silva said.

Louisa Moller