Home » News » For the WHO, the Omicron variant presents a “very high risk” on a planetary scale

For the WHO, the Omicron variant presents a “very high risk” on a planetary scale

Admittedly, knowledge concerning the dangerousness of Omicron, the new variant of SARS-CoV-2, is incomplete; but they did not prevent the World Health Organization (WHO) from alerting, Monday, November 29, on the “Very high risk” that it presents at the global level.

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Omicron is a variant “Highly divergent”, writes the organization in a technical document, and “Given the mutations that could confer escape potential to the immune response [autrement dit, une résistance aux anticorps produits par un vaccin ou une infection], just like possibly giving [au virus] an advantage in terms of transmissibility, the likelihood of Omicron spreading globally is high ”.

The list of countries where it is detected continues to grow, after the first cases were spotted in southern Africa. Omicron was first detected in South Africa on November 24. According to the WHO, the presence of Omicron is already documented in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe and the Western Pacific. It has already led many countries to close their borders, against the advice of the WHO, which specifies in its document that it is preparing an opinion on the adaptation of international traffic to the new variant.

An increased risk of reinfection?

The organization emphasizes that many unknowns remain about this variant: what is its contagiousness, is it inherent in the mutations observed or does it arise from the fact that this variant is better able to escape the immune response? What is the level of protection conferred by existing Covid-19 vaccines against this variant? Does Omicron cause more severe symptoms?

Despite these uncertainties, the WHO is giving initial indications. Omicron has a number of mutations ” unprecedented “ and several of them “Are worrying because of their potential impact on the trajectory of the epidemic”, notably “Initial elements suggest that there could be, with this variant, an increased risk of reinfection”.

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“Depending on these characteristics, there could be future peaks of Covid-19, which could have severe consequences depending on different factors and in particular where these peaks would occur”, added the WHO, which had as of Friday classified the variant as “Worrying”.

“No deaths to date”

“To date, no death associated with the Omicron variant has been reported”, underlines the organization, which gives advice to the authorities to try to stop the diffusion of the new variant. All are already known: ensure the best possible follow-up of its spread, wear a mask, respect physical distancing, ventilate the rooms, avoid crowds, wash your hands.

Regarding vaccination, “Further research is required to better understand the potential exhaust [du variant] vaccine and immunity acquired through infection ‘, recognizes the WHO. However, she adds, “Despite the uncertainties, it is reasonable to assume that the vaccines currently available offer some protection against severe and fatal forms of the disease.”

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The World with AFP

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