Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, for example, on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes.
New Delhi: Having flagged the coronavirus strain B.1.1.529, named ‘Omicron’, a variant of concern earlier this week, the World Health Organization or WHO on Sunday released its latest findings amid growing concern across the world.
- According to the WHO, preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with ‘Omicron’ – people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with this variant.
- It is not yet clear whether ‘Omicron’ is more transmissible (more easily spread from person to person) compared to Delta and other variants. For now, RT-PCR tests can detect the strain.
- The WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on vaccines.
- It is not yet clear whether infection with ‘Omicron’ causes more severe disease. There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants.
- Preliminary data suggests increased hospitalization 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’. Initial reported infections were among university studies – younger individuals who tend to have milder symptoms – but understanding the level of severity of the ‘Omicron’ variant will take days to several weeks.