The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed its latest findings on Sunday, amid mounting alarm around the world, after flagging the coronavirus strain B.1.1.529, termed ‘Omicron,’ as a variant of concern earlier this week.
According to the WHO, preliminary evidence suggests that there may be a higher risk of reinfection with ‘Omicron’ – people who have previously been infected with COVID-19 may be more easily reinfected with this variety.
It’s unclear whether ‘Omicron’ is more transmissible (easier to pass from one person to another) than Delta and other forms. RT-PCR testing can currently detect the strain.
The WHO is working with technical partners to figure out how this variation might affect immunizations.
It’s yet unclear whether ‘Omicron’ infection produces more severe disease. There is currently no evidence that the symptoms associated with Omicron are distinct from those associated with other variations.
According to preliminary data, hospitalisation has increased in South Africa, however this could be due to an increase in the general number of persons becoming infected rather than a specific infection with ‘Omicron.’ The first cases of infection were among university students, who are younger and had lesser symptoms, but determining the severity of the ‘Omicron’ version will take days to weeks.