Covid-19: Omicron poses 'very high' global risk, countries must prepare, says WHO

U.N. agency urged countries to accelerate vaccination of high-priority groups



Images of the Delta and Omicron variants from the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, showing mutations compared to the original SARS CoV-2 spike. (Photo:AFP)
Images of the Delta and Omicron variants from the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, showing mutations compared to the original SARS CoV-2 spike. (Photo:AFP)

By Reuters

Published: Mon 29 Nov 2021, 12:01 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 Nov 2021, 12:14 PM

The Omicron variant is likely to spread internationally, posing a “very high” global risk where Covid-19 surges could have “severe consequences” in some areas, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

The U.N. agency, in technical advice to its 194 member states, urged them to accelerate vaccination of high-priority groups and to “ensure mitigation plans are in place” to maintain essential health services.

“Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic,” the WHO said. “The overall global risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron is assessed as very high.”

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Further research is needed to better understand Omicron’s potential to escape protection against immunity induced by vaccines and previous infections, it said, adding that more data was expected in coming weeks.

“Covid -19 cases and infections are expected in vaccinated persons, albeit in a small and predictable proportion”, it added.


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