According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Omicron form of the coronavirus is spreading substantially faster than the Delta strain in nations with established community transmission, with the number of cases doubling in 1.5 to 3 days.
The United Nations’ health office announced on Saturday that Omicron had been reported in 89 nations.
According to the WHO, the highly modified form is fast spreading in nations with high levels of population immunity, but it’s unclear whether this is due to the virus’ capacity to evade immunity, its inherent greater transmissibility, or a mix of both.
On November 26, shortly after it was discovered by scientists in South Africa, the FDA labelled Omicron as a variety of concern, and nothing is known about it. Scientists are unsure how harmful it is, but preliminary evidence suggests it may be more vaccine resistant and transmissible than the Delta variety.
In its update, the WHO stated, “There are still inadequate data on the clinical severity of Omicron.” “More data is needed to understand the severity profile and how vaccination and pre-existing immunity affect severity.”
“There is still limited available data, and no peer-reviewed evidence, on vaccine efficacy or effectiveness for Omicron to date,” the statement continued.
The findings called into question some scientists’ cautious optimism, based mostly on anecdotal accounts from South Africa, that the new strain would be less virulent and so not overwhelm healthcare systems.
The paper was revealed as British officials reported a third consecutive day of record COVID-19 cases, with 93,045 new infections, and French Prime Minister Jean Castex compared Omicron’s spread in Europe to “lightning.”
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden warned that individuals who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 may face a “winter of catastrophic illness and death,” while health ministers from the G7 group of advanced nations dubbed Omicron the greatest threat to world public health.
It comes after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus claimed Omicron “is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variety” and bemoaned the fact that some people dismissed it as a minor mutation.
He told a press conference on Tuesday, “Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril.” “Even if Omicron causes less severe disease, the sheer volume of cases could overwhelm health systems that aren’t prepared.”