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Not yet clear if Omicron variant more transmissible or causes severe disease: WHO

"There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants,” the WHO said.
 

Not yet clear if Omicron variant more transmissible or causes severe disease: WHO-dnm
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Geneva, First Published Nov 29, 2021, 8:41 AM IST
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The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it is “not yet clear” whether the newly-detected Covid-19 variant Omicron is more transmissible or causes more severe disease compared to other variants, including the highly-transmissible and globally prevalent Delta variant.

“Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalisation 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” it said.

However, in a statement, the agency reiterated that preliminary evidence suggests there may be a higher risk of reinfection from the variant. The WHO said it is working with technical experts to understand the potential impact of the variant on existing countermeasures against Covid-19 disease, including vaccines.

"There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants,” the WHO said.

It added that initial reported infections were among university studies -- younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease -- but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks.

Amid concerns over the detection and transmissibility of B.1.1.529, designated by the WHO as a “variant of concern”, the global health organisation said on Sunday that even as researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available, “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”.

PCR tests continue to detect infection with Omicron – which was first detected in South Africa earlier this month – and studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on rapid antigen detection tests, the WHO said.

The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new omicron variant.

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