Technical data

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


People pose with a syringe with a needle in front of the displayed logo of the World Health Organization (WHO), in this illustration taken on December 11, 2021. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic

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GENEVA, Dec. 13 (Reuters) – Omicron coronavirus variant, reported in more than 60 countries, poses “very high” global risk, with evidence that it escapes vaccine protection, but clinical data on its severity remains limited, according to the World Health Organization says.

Considerable uncertainty surrounds Omicron, first detected last month in South Africa and Hong Kong, whose mutations could lead to higher transmissibility and more cases of COVID-19 disease, the WHO said in a note technique published on Sunday.

“The overall risk with the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high for a number of reasons,” he said, reiterating his first assessment of November 29.

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“And second, preliminary evidence suggests potential humoral immune breakout against infection and high transmission rates, which could lead to further outbreaks with serious consequences,” the WHO said, referring to the virus’s potential ability. to escape the immunity provided by the antibodies.

WHO has cited preliminary evidence that the number of people re-infected with the virus has increased in South Africa.

While preliminary results from South Africa suggest that Omicron may be less severe than the Delta variant – currently dominant worldwide – and that all reported cases in the Europe region have been mild or asymptomatic, it is not not clear to what extent Omicron may be inherently less virulent, he mentioned.

“More data is needed to understand the severity profile,” he said. “Although the severity is potentially less than that of the Delta variant, hospitalizations are expected to

increase due to increased transmission. More hospitalizations can strain health systems

and lead to more deaths. “

More information was expected in the coming weeks, he added, noting the lag between infections and results.

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Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by William Maclean

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.