WHO says Omicron risk ‘very high’

Dec. 30, 2021

The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in its Weekly Epidemiological Update on COVID-19.

More than 278 million cases and just under 5.4 million deaths have been reported globally during the pandemic, the WHO said.

“Consistent evidence shows that the Omicron variant has a growth advantage over the Delta variant with a doubling time of 2-3 days and rapid increases in the incidence of cases is seen in a number of countries, including those where the variant has become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant, such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America,” the WHO said.

However, the WHO also noted a decline in the incidence of cases observed in South Africa.

The WHO also said that “the rapid growth rate is likely to be a combination of both immune evasion and intrinsic increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant. Early data from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Denmark suggests there is a reduced risk of hospitalization for the Omicron compared to the Delta variant, however, further data are needed to understand the clinical markers of severity including the use of oxygen, mechanical ventilation and death, and how severity may be impacted by vaccination and/or prior SARSCoV-2 infection.”

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