WHO: Omicron poses a ‘very high’ global risk

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday that the new COVID-19 omicron variant poses a “very high” risk across the globe, but noted that there is still much to learn about the highly mutated strain.

In a technical brief to member states, the WHO said the omicron variant has “a large number of mutations”, some of which are worrying because they “may be associated with immune flight and higher transmissibility.”

“However, there are still significant uncertainties,” the WHO noted, pointing to transmissibility of how well existing vaccines protect against the new strain and the severity of an omicron infection.

Despite these unknowns, the WHO said the risk around the world from the variant is “very high”, predicting that the new strain will continue to spread across the globe.

“Given the mutations that may confer immune potential and potentially transferable benefit, the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron globally is high,” the WHO wrote in the brief.

“Depending on these characteristics, there may be future increases in COVID-19, which could have serious consequences, depending on a number of factors, including where increases may occur. The overall global risk related to the new VOC Omicron is considered to be very high,” it is added.

The board convened an emergency meeting Friday as it labeled the omicron strain as a variant of concern after it was first discovered in South Africa.

The variant has since been found in a number of neighboring countries as well as in nations including Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

As a result, The United States has imposed travel restrictions in South Africa and seven other African countries – Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi – in an attempt to control the spread of the new variant.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciAustralia is reviewing reopening plans following the reporting of the first omicron case The bid on Monday provides an update on the US response to the omicron variant Canada reports North America’s first case of omicron COVID-19 variant MORE Sunday said the omicron tribe will “inevitably” arrives in the United States, pointing out that it has already spread to a number of countries after first being discovered in South Africa.

–Updated at 7:27

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