Janet Diaz, WHO lead on medical administration, mentioned early research confirmed there was a decreased threat of hospitalisation from the variant first recognized in southern Africa and Hong Kong in November in contrast with Delta.
There seems additionally to be a decreased threat of severity in each youthful and older folks, she instructed a media briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
The remarks on the decreased dangers of extreme illness chime with different knowledge, together with research from South Africa and England, though she didn’t give additional particulars concerning the research or ages of the circumstances analysed.
The affect on the aged is without doubt one of the huge unanswered questions concerning the new variant as a lot of the circumstances studied to date have been in youthful folks.
“Whereas Omicron does look like much less extreme in comparison with Delta, particularly in these vaccinated, it doesn’t imply it needs to be categorised as delicate,” director common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mentioned on the similar briefing in Geneva.
“Identical to earlier variants, Omicron is hospitalising folks and it’s killing folks.”
He warned of a “tsunami” of circumstances as international infections soar to data fuelled by each Omicron and Delta, healthcare methods are overwhelmed, and governments battle to tame the virus, which has killed greater than 5.8 million folks.
‘Billions utterly unprotected’
Tedros repeated his name for larger fairness globally within the distribution of and entry to vaccines.
Based mostly on the present charge of vaccine rollout, 109 international locations will miss the WHO’s goal for 70% of the world’s inhabitants to be totally vaccinated by July, Tedros added. That intention is seen as serving to finish the acute section of the pandemic.
“Booster after booster in a small variety of international locations won’t finish a pandemic whereas billions stay utterly unprotected,” he mentioned.
WHO adviser Bruce Aylward mentioned 36 nations had not even reached 10 % vaccination cowl. Amongst extreme sufferers worldwide, 80% have been unvaccinated, he added.
In its weekly epidemiological report on Thursday, the WHO mentioned circumstances elevated by 71%, or 9.5 million, within the week to Jan. 2 from every week earlier, whereas deaths fell by 10%, or 41,000.
One other variant B.1.640 — first documented in a number of international locations in September 2021 — is amongst these being monitored by the WHO however shouldn’t be circulating broadly, mentioned the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove.
There are two different classes of larger significance the WHO makes use of to trace variants: “variant of concern”, which incorporates Delta and Omicron, and “variant of curiosity”.