Viruses are constantly changing. These changes sometimes cause people to become infected more quickly, or more people to be hospitalized. Since the start of the corona crisis, we have already had to deal with several variants of the virus in the Netherlands.
This article explains the page coronavirus variants
The Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa in November 2021. Research is still being done on just how quickly this variant is spreading, how infectious it is and how likely it is to make people severely ill. The RIVM website shows what we know so far. For optimum protection against the Omicron variant, people need to get a booster vaccination, which gives their immune system a boost. The webpage on COVID-19 vaccinations shows the progress of the booster vaccination campaign. The producers of the vaccines that we are currently using in the Netherlands are working to modify the vaccines so that they provide better protection against Omicron. When these modified vaccines are ready and approved, they will be used instead of the current vaccines.
On the webpage on Coronavirus variants (government.nl) you can find more information about the different variants. The figures on the dashboard are based on pathogen surveillance studies. These studies look at how the virus is evolving, and they take a lot of time. As a result, percentages for the Omicron variant on the dashboard will be different from the figures based on expectations. These expectations are based on data from laboratories that use a special PCR test to detect the Omicron variant. For a more detailed explanation, see Corodashboard data explained.
The coronavirus tests used at municipal health service (GGD) test locations are just as good at detecting the Omicron variant as the Delta variant, which until recently was the most common. There is no difference between the Delta variant and the Omicron variant when doing self-tests, either.
While we don’t know everything about Omicron yet, we do know that it can spread very rapidly – even faster than the Delta variant. This means more people will be infected and there will be more hospital and ICU admissions. To keep healthcare accessible to everyone, the government decided to impose a lockdown so as to slow and prevent the spread of the Omicron variant as much as possible. You can read more about this here.