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Not Clear If Omicron More Transmissible Or Causes More Severe Disease: WHO

After being detected in South Africa, the World Health Organisation had classified Omicron as a Variant of Concern

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Mumbai: The World Health Organisation on Sunday informed that it is yet not clear if Omicron, the new variant of COVID-19, is more transmissible, or causes more severe diseases compared to the other variants, including Delta. While researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies, the international health body has clarified certain points that could throw light on the new variant and the way Omicron could affect the global community.

The WHO has said that currently, there is no information available to suggest that the symptoms of Omicron are different from the other variants of COVID-19, adding that it will take days or even several weeks to analyse the symptoms of Omicron.

Underlining that all the existing variants of COVID-19, including Delta, are severe and can cause death, WHO noted, Prevention is the key to staying safe against Omicron. WHO added that preliminary information suggests the Omicron may have an increased risk of re-infection.

WHO has further clarified that the current PCR tests help detect Omicron. However, further studies are currently underway to determine if available vaccines are effective against Omicron.

On Friday, the WHO classified the latest variant of COVID-19 – B.1.1.529 of SARS-CoV-2 virus – known as Omicron, as a variant of concern. The WHO has urged countries to enhance surveillance against the variant and urged the scientific community to better understand the potential impacts of the latest variant of COVID-19 (Omicron).

By definition, ‘a VOC, with a degree of global public health significance demonstrates one or more of mutational changes such as an increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology, increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation, and decrease in the effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.

While India is yet to report any cases, suspected or confirmed cases of the new variant have already been reported from numerous countries including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Israel.

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