Gov. Ned Lamont announced this weekend that one Connecticut resident has been infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus. It has not been long since the variant was first discovered in South Africa, though more is being learned about omicron as more cases are uncovered and as research progresses. \u201cWe know very little,\u201d Rick Martinello, head of infection prevention at Yale New Haven Health, said when asked what we know about omicron. \u201cI would say, it's still fair to state that we remain with more questions than we do have answers,\u201d he said. Here are five questions about omicron, and what we know so far: 1. How transmissible is it? Exactly how transmissible omicron is, and how much more transmissible it might be compared to other coronavirus variants, is unknown. \u201cRight now, our information is really based upon the epidemiology that we're seeing within different communities as it gets introduced into those communities,\u201d Martinello said. \u201cWhat they're finding, it's just highly concerning with the rapidity in which it is being spread.\u201d Though with the caveat that it is not yet published and had wide margins for error, Martinello pointed to one study \u201cwhere they estimated that it may be twice as easily spread as the delta variant.\u201d Nathan Grubaugh, associate professor the Yale School of Public Health, said during a recent Q&A that some of the mutations that make the variant unique are thought to increase transmissibility. \u201cWith 47 defining mutations, omicron is the most divergent SARS-CoV-2 variant yet identified,\u201d Grubaugh said. \u201cThough it evolved independently of other variants, they share several key mutations, some of which have been previously associated with enhanced transmissibility and\/or immune escape.\u201d That said, omicron\u2019s quick spread to six continents around the world has made some researchers take notice, as noted in a study produced by private medical data analysis firm, nference. \u201cThe emergence of a heavily mutated SARS-CoV-2 variant (B.1.1.529, omicron) and its spread to six continents within a week of initial discovery has set off a global public health alarm,\u201d the study said. 2. Is omicron more virulent? Initial studies suggest that symptoms produced by omicron are less severe than those caused by previously identified variants. The World Health Organization noted that in South Africa, where the variant was first identified, there was an increase in hospitalizations, though that may be circumstantial evidence. \u201cPreliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with omicron,\u201d the WHO wrote. \u201cThere is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with omicron are different from those from other variants.\u201d Manisha Juthani, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, said Monday that, \u201cwe have a lot to still learn about omicron.\u201d \u201cWe don't know what kind of impact it's going to have. Luckily, for our first few cases here in Connecticut, it seems that it has been mild disease so far,\u201d she said. \u201cThat is welcome news.\u201d While only one omicron case had been confirmed in Connecticut as of Monday, Juthani was referring to other infections that are suspected to contain the variant. Martinello, however, said that data was largely anecdotal. \u201cWe've seen anecdotes, where individuals have said that the cases that they're seeing are relatively mild,\u201d he said. \u201cI think we need to really take that with a big grain of salt.\u201d 3. Can it evade immune responses? Grubaugh said that\u2019s something we might learn in the next two to four weeks. \u201cWe currently do not have any data to know for sure the impact that omicron will have on immune evasion, both from vaccines and previous infection,\u201d Grubaugh wrote. \u201cOmicron has 30 mutations in the spike protein, many previously associated with antibody escape, so we expect that it will have some effect. But exactly how much is very difficult to predict at this point.\u201d There are some initial indications that patients can be reinfected with omicron. Juliet R.C. Pulliam, of the South African Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis, was among several researchers who published a study suggesting that omicron could evade immune responses, at least in patients with some degree of natural immunity. \u201cPopulation-level evidence suggests that the omicron variant is associated with substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection,\u201d the study says. \u201cIn contrast, there is no population-wide epidemiological evidence of immune escape associated with the beta or delta variants.\u201d That study has not yet been peer-reviewed. Local, national and international officials continue to encourage vaccinations, both the initial course and boosters. \u201cThe recent emergence of the omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and general prevention strategies needed to protect against COVID-19,\u201d the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote. At an event in New Haven Monday, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said, \u201comicron is one of a series, it's a preview of coming attractions.\u201d \u201cIf we fail to get vaccinated and use the booster as long as this virus is spreading, it will be mutating and if it's eventually going to find a way to defeat the vaccine and booster unless we act promptly and effectively to get everybody vaccinated around the world, not just here in the United States,\u201d he said. 4. How widespread is it in Connecticut? There has only been a single case of omicron detected and announced so far in Connecticut, though it may be more widespread. Grubaugh, who runs the laboratory that conducts most of the genetic testing of coronavirus variants in Connecticut, said last week that there are as many as 650 samples tested weekly in the state. Before omicron was identified in Connecticut, Grubaugh postulated that it was already here, but not \u201cyet at a high prevalence.\u201d Omicron has so far been detected in 17 states, according to national news reports. The variant that is causing the most infections in Connecticut is still delta, which Grubaugh said has been found in 100 percent of samples tested in recent weeks. \u201cThe delta variant is still very much here,\u201d Juthani said. \u201cIt is what is causing most of our problems right now and resulting in severe disease, particularly in the unvaccinated.\u201d 5. Can coronavirus tests identify omicron? Early indications suggest that tests in use around Connecticut and elsewhere can accurately identify a coronavirus infection if it is caused by omicron. Abbott Labs, which manufactures both PCR and antigen tests for the coronavirus, said recently that its tests can detect omicron. \u201cWe have already conducted an assessment of the omicron variant and we're confident our rapid and PCR tests can detect the virus,\u201d Abbott said in a release. \u201cWhile the omicron variant contains mutations to the spike protein, Abbott's rapid and molecular tests \u2014 antigen and PCR \u2014 do not rely on the spike gene to detect the virus.\u201d Mutations to that spike gene, specifically a \u201c9 nucleotide deletion,\u201d actually make it easier for Grubaugh and his colleagues to identify omicron. When that absence is noted, it\u2019s probably omicron. \u201cWith omicron, we actually have a method for rapid detection,\u201d Grubaugh explained. \u201cOmicron has a 9-nucleotide deletion in its spike gene, the same that alpha had. There is a particular PCR assay that targets this spike gene region as well as two other genes. When viruses that have this deletion are tested, the other genes are positive but the spike is negative.\u201d Staff writer Ed Stannard contributed to this report.