- Sputnik International, 1920
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.

Ex-UK Scientific Advisor: Detection of Omicron Variant Means Pandemic Not Over Yet

© REUTERS / LOREN ELLIOTTA medical worker carries RT-PCR swab tests at a pre-departure coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility, as countries react to the new coronavirus Omicron variant, outside the international terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney
A medical worker carries RT-PCR swab tests at a pre-departure coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility, as countries react to the new coronavirus Omicron variant, outside the international terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2021
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant brought the world back to square one in dealing with the pandemic, the former UK government scientific advisor and director of Wellcome Trust, Jeremy Farrar, said.
"This variant reminds us all that we remain closer to the start of the pandemic than the end," Farrar said in his article for the Observer on Saturday.
Syringes with needles are seen in front of a displayed stock graph and words Omicron SARS-CoV-2 in this illustration taken, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.11.2021
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The scientist expressed his concern for countries that have limited access to vaccines. He also added that while he is "cautiously hopeful" that the currently developed COVID-19 vaccines will protect all those fully inoculated from catching and falling severely ill with the new variant, this could not be entirely true for the next variant.
"The longer this virus continues to spread in largely unvaccinated populations globally, the more likely it is that a variant that can overcome our vaccines and treatments will emerge. If that happens, we could be close to square one," Farrar stressed.
According to Farrar, if a global vaccine supply can be ensured, we could prevent the emergence of an even newer variant. He, therefore, called on rich countries to share their extra vaccine supplies with poorer nations over the coming months.
A healthcare worker collects a swab from a passenger for a PCR test against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before traveling to Uganda, amidst the spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2021
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Farrar also reminded all of the importance to continue wearing masks in indoor spaces and follow social distancing measures.
The scientist resigned from his position as government scientific advisor last month amid claims that the UK government's response to the COVID-19 situation in the country was "concerning."
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