Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

WHO: Omicron Variant Detected in 57 Countries

WHO: Omicron Variant Detected in 57 Countries, Predicted to Continue to Increase

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has now been reported in 57 countries. It is estimated that this number will continue to grow.

Certain features of the Omicron, including its global spread and large number of mutations, suggest that it could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic.

“We are now starting to see a consistent picture of a rapid increase in transmission, although for now the exact rate of increase relative to other variants remains difficult to measure,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom in a press statement Wednesday (12/8/2021).

In South Africa, the number of Omicron cases is increasing rapidly. However, Omicron was detected when the Delta transmission was very low, so the competition was small.

Therefore, it is important to closely monitor what is happening around the world. And need to understand whether Omicron can beat Delta’s dominance.

For that reason, WHO calls on all countries to increase surveillance, testing and sequencing.

Existing diagnostics still work like PCR and antigen-based tests.

Still Need A Lot Of Data
Data emerging from South Africa suggest there is an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron, but more data are needed to draw firmer conclusions.

There is also some evidence that Omicron causes milder disease than Delta, but it’s too early to say for sure.

“To help us build a clearer picture of the severity and symptoms of disease caused by Omicron, we are asking more countries to submit more data to our Clinical Data Platform, using the most recent case reporting form available on our website.”

New data emerges every day, but scientists need time to complete studies and interpret the results.

Tedros appealed that all parties must be careful in drawing firm conclusions until they have a more complete picture.

Multi-Stakeholder Research
Every day, WHO brings together thousands of experts around the world to share and analyze data and drive research forward.

For example, the Technical Advisory Group on the Evolution of Viruses is assessing the effects of Omicron on transmission, disease severity, vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, and the effectiveness of public health and social measures.

The Joint Advisory Group on COVID-19 Therapeutic Priorities is analyzing the possible effects of Omicron on the care of hospitalized patients.

The R&D Blueprint for Epidemics is gathering researchers to identify knowledge gaps, and studies are urgently needed to answer the most pressing questions.

The Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition is assessing Omicron’s impact on the current vaccine and determining whether changes to the vaccine are needed.

“Once again, I thank the scientists in South Africa who have worked closely with WHO to help us learn more about Omicron,” concluded Tedros.

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