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Omicron variant could change course of COVID-19 pandemic, WHO director general says

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French.china.org.cn| Updated on 09-12-2021

Some of the characteristics of the Omicron variant, including its global distribution and large number of mutations, suggest that it could have a major impact on the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the director general of the World Organization said on Wednesday. health (WHO).

The Omicron variant is now present in 57 countries, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, warning during a press briefing that this strain could spread even faster than the previous ones.

“We are now starting to see a rapid increase in the rates of transmission of the virus, although this rate is still difficult to quantify compared to other variants,” he said.

“New data from South Africa suggests an increased risk of re-infection with Omicron, but more data is needed to draw more precise conclusions,” he added.

Although some clues suggest that Omicron is causing milder symptoms than the Delta variant, it is still too early to draw firm conclusions, WHO experts have said.

According to Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergency management program, although the virus’s natural evolution tends to make it more transmissible as it mutates, that doesn’t necessarily make the virus less serious, as some “urban legends” have suggested.

It is also too early to say that Omicron is causing a significant reduction in vaccine effectiveness, said Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist.

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