Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.
WHO: Data Insufficient to Conclude Omicron More Dangerous Than Delta
© AP Photo / Denis FarrellA petrol attendant stands next to a newspaper headline in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.
© AP Photo / Denis Farrell
GENEVA (Sputnik) - There are not enough data yet to state that the new Omicron coronavirus variant is more dangerous than the Delta one, and existing vaccines remain effective, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday.
"It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors," the WHO said in a statement.
The organization also added that it is not clear yet if the Omicron strain leads to a more serious course of the disease.
"It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta. Preliminary 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," the organization said.
The WHO is also working with a group of technical experts to figure out if the new strain can affect the effectiveness of the existing vaccines and other sanitary measures.
The organization identified on Friday the new strain, first detected in South Africa, as one of concern, as it is reported to be more transmissible and dangerous. The WHO dubbed it Omicron, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.