LONDON – The omicron variant of the Coronavirus is likely to spread further and represents a “very high” global risk according to the World Health Organization, which warned on Monday that increases in Covid infections caused by the worrying variant could have “serious consequences” in some areas.
“Given mutations that can confer an immune escape potential and possibly a transferability advantage, the likelihood of a possible further spread of Omicron on a global level is high,” said the WHO in its risk assessment on Monday within a year technical letter to its 194 member states.
“Depending on these characteristics, there could be future increases in Covid-19 that could have serious consequences depending on a number of factors including where the increase can occur. The overall global risk associated with the new VOC [variant of concern] Omicron is rated as very high, “said the UN health authority.
In his report on Monday it is said that it is “a very different variant with a high number of mutations …
However, there are still considerable uncertainties and unknowns in relation to this variant, it said and repeated this mood on Monday.
First, experts don’t yet know how communicable the variant is and whether an increase in infections is related to immune escape, intrinsic increased communicability, or both.
Second, there is uncertainty about how well vaccines protect against infection, transmission, and clinical disease of varying degrees of severity, as well as death. And third, there is uncertainty as to whether the variant has a different severity profile.
The WHO has announced that it will take weeks to understand how the variant can affect diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. However, preliminary evidence suggests that the strain has an increased risk of reinfection.
Early data suggests that the variant is spreading faster in South Africa than previous strains and that the variant could trigger a new wave of infections. according to an analysis by the Financial Times.
Covid symptoms related to Omicron have been described as “extremely mild” by the South African doctor who first sounded the alarm about the new strain.
It is very important to remember that so far only a small number of cases have been reported worldwide – in several countries in southern Africa and a couple of cases by doing United Kingdom, France, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Australia, Canada, and Hong Kong, but none yet in the US – so it might take a while to fully understand which specific symptoms, if any, are attributable to the larger Omicron variant.
It is also too early to say what health risk the new variant poses on a global level; the international community has already seen several increasingly virulent strains of the coronavirus, first with the “Alpha” variant and then with the “Delta” variant, which is currently dominant worldwide.
Covid vaccines have been instrumental in reducing serious infections, hospital stays and deaths, so new variants are being closely monitored to assess whether and how they could affect vaccine effectiveness.
WHO urged Member States to step up monitoring and sequencing efforts to better understand variants, including Omicron, and step up community testing to see if Omicron is in circulation.
It also urged member states to speed up Covid vaccinations “as soon as possible”, especially for high priority groups.
News of a new variant scared global markets on Friday, but European stocks Climbed Monday morning. The region is already grappling with a sharp spike in Delta variant infections, which is putting pressure on health services in a number of countries, including Germany and the Netherlands.
The WHO urged countries to take mitigation measures to prepare for a possible surge in Covid case numbers and the associated pressure on the health system, to ensure that mitigation plans are in place to maintain basic health services, and the necessary resources for Health care providers are in place to respond to potential surges. “