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WHO laments 500,000 COVID deaths due to Omicron

WHO's incident manager Abdi Mahamud stated that 130 million cases and 500,000 deaths had been registered worldwide since Omicron was declared a variant of concern in late November.

WHO laments 500,000 COVID deaths due to Omicron - ADT
Genève, First Published Feb 9, 2022, 11:20 AM IST

The World Health Organization (WHO) lamented on Tuesday that 500,000 Covid-19 deaths had been recorded since the Omicron variant was discovered, calling the figure 'beyond tragic.'

Abdi Mahamud, the WHO's incident manager, stated that 130 million cases and 500,000 deaths had been registered worldwide since Omicron was declared a variant of concern in late November. It has since surpassed Delta as the dominant Covid variant because it is more transmissible, despite causing less severe illness.

Mahamud, during a live interaction on the WHO's social media channels, said, "In the age of effective vaccines, half a million people dying, it's really something." He added that everyone claims that Omicron is milder; however, they missed the point that half a million people died were detected with the variant. He said it's 'beyond tragic.'

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on Covid-19, said the number of known Omicron cases is 'astounding,' and the actual number is much higher. She added the current number makes the previous peaks look almost flat. She said we are still in the middle of this pandemic as many countries have not passed their peak of Omicron yet. 

Van Kerkhove expressed grave concern that the number of deaths had risen for several weeks in a row. This virus is still dangerous, she said.

In the weekly Covid-19 epidemiological update released late Tuesday, WHO reported nearly 68,000 new deaths in the last week. The weekly number of new Covid cases dropped by 17 per cent to almost 19.3 million.

Last week, the WHO's Europe region accounted for 58 per cent of new confirmed cases and 35 per cent of new deaths. The Americas accounted for 23 per cent of new cases and 44 per cent of new deaths.

As per the report, the pandemic is currently "characterised by the continued rapid global spread of the Omicron variant," with the variant now detected "in almost all countries."

WHO said, Omicron accounted for 96.7 per cent of samples sequenced and uploaded to the GISAID global science initiative in the last 30 days. Delta now accounts for only 3.3% of the total. According to the report, there is a lack of data on the efficacy of vaccines against Omicron.

The report however read, the available estimates show the primary series, Covid-19 vaccines provide less protection against the Omicron variant for all outcomes (severe disease, symptomatic disease, and infection) than other variants of concern that have previously been observed. It adds that booster shots 'substantially' improve efficacy.

According to the report, Covid-19 has killed over 5.7 million people since it emerged in China in December 2019, with over 392 million cases recorded. Globally, nearly 10.25 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered.

Also Read: WHO says rush in wealthy countries to roll out additional COVID vaccine doses deepening inequity

Also Read: WHO approves Serum Institute of India’s Covovax for emergency use

Also Read: Probability of reinfection in Omicron is three times higher than Delta: WHO chief scientist

Also Read: Omicron variant could outcompete highly contagious Delta, says South African disease expert

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