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Omicron poses ‘very high’ global risk but severity data is limited – WHO

People pose with syringes with needles in front of the displayed WHO logo
FILE PHOTO: People pose with syringes with needles in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) logo displayed, in this illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

December 13, 2021

GENEVA (Reuters) – The Omicron coronavirus variant, reported in more than 60 countries, poses a “very high” risk globally, with some evidence it evades vaccine protection but data Clinical significance of its severity is still limited, the World Health Organization said.

There are significant uncertainties around Omicron, which was first detected last month in South Africa and Hong Kong, the WHO said in a technical press conference released on Sunday.

“The overall risk associated with the new variant of interest to Omicron remains very high for a number of reasons,” it said, reiterating its initial assessment on Nov.

“And second, preliminary evidence suggests that the escape of humoral immunity against infection, and high rates of transmission, can lead to further increases with serious consequences,” the WHO said, noting to the virus’s latent ability to evade antibody-provided immunity.

WHO cited some preliminary evidence that the number of people being reinfected with the virus had increased in South Africa.

While preliminary findings from South Africa suggest that Omicron may be less severe than the Delta variant – which is now predominant worldwide – and all cases reported in the European region are mild or asymptomatic, it remains unclear to what extent Omicron may be less virulent. speak.

“More data is needed to understand the severity profile,” it said. “Even if the severity is likely to be lower than that of the Delta variant, one is expected to require hospitalization

increased as a result of increasing transmission. More hospital admissions could burden the health system

and lead to more deaths”.

More information is expected in the coming weeks, it added, noting the time interval between infections and results.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Editing by William Maclean)

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DUSTIN JONES

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