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Replace on Omicron


On 26 November 2021, WHO designated the variant B.1.1.529 a variant of concern, named Omicron, on the recommendation of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE).  This choice was primarily based on the proof offered to the TAG-VE that Omicron has a number of mutations that will have an effect on the way it behaves, for instance, on how simply it spreads or the severity of sickness it causes. Here’s a abstract of what’s at present identified.  


Present information about Omicron 

Researchers in South Africa and around the globe are conducting research to raised perceive many points of Omicron and can proceed to share the findings of those research as they turn into accessible.  

Transmissibility: It’s not but clear whether or not Omicron is extra transmissible (e.g., extra simply unfold from individual to individual) in comparison with different variants, together with Delta. The variety of individuals testing optimistic has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, however epidemiologic research are underway to grasp whether it is due to Omicron or different elements.  

Severity of illness: It’s not but clear whether or not an infection with Omicron causes extra extreme illness in comparison with infections with different variants, together with Delta.  Preliminary information means that there are rising charges of hospitalization in South Africa, however this can be because of rising total numbers of individuals turning into contaminated, relatively than a results of particular an infection with Omicron.  There may be at present no info to counsel that signs related to Omicron are completely different from these from different variants.  Preliminary reported infections had been amongst college college students—youthful people who are likely to have extra gentle illness—however understanding the extent of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to a number of weeks.  All variants of COVID-19, together with the Delta variant that’s dominant worldwide, could cause extreme illness or dying, specifically for essentially the most susceptible individuals, and thus prevention is at all times key. 


Effectiveness of prior SARS-CoV-2 an infection 

Preliminary proof suggests there could also be an elevated danger of reinfection with Omicron (ie, individuals who have beforehand had COVID-19 may turn into reinfected extra simply with Omicron), as in comparison with different variants of concern, however info is proscribed. Extra info on this can turn into accessible within the coming days and weeks. 

Effectiveness of vaccines: WHO is working with technical companions to grasp the potential impression of this variant on our current countermeasures, together with vaccines. Vaccines stay vital to decreasing extreme illness and dying, together with towards the dominant circulating variant, Delta. Present vaccines stay efficient towards extreme illness and dying.   

Effectiveness of present checks: The extensively used PCR checks proceed to detect an infection, together with an infection with Omicron, as we have now seen with different variants as effectively. Research are ongoing to find out whether or not there’s any impression on different kinds of checks, together with speedy antigen detection checks.  

Effectiveness of present therapies:   Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will nonetheless be efficient for managing sufferers with extreme COVID-19. Different therapies will likely be assessed to see if they’re nonetheless as efficient given the adjustments to components of the virus within the Omicron variant.  


Research underway 

At the moment, WHO is coordinating with numerous researchers around the globe to raised perceive Omicron. Research at present underway or underway shortly embody assessments of transmissibility, severity of an infection (together with signs), efficiency of vaccines and diagnostic checks, and effectiveness of therapies.    

WHO encourages international locations to contribute the gathering and sharing of hospitalized affected person information by the WHO COVID-19 Scientific Information Platform to quickly describe scientific traits and affected person outcomes.  

Extra info will emerge within the coming days and weeks. WHO’s TAG-VE will proceed to watch and consider the information because it turns into accessible and assess how mutations in Omicron alter the behaviour of the virus.  


Advisable actions for international locations 

As Omicron has been designated a Variant of Concern, there are a number of actions WHO recommends international locations to undertake, together with enhancing surveillance and sequencing of instances;  sharing genome sequences on publicly accessible databases, akin to GISAID; reporting preliminary instances or clusters to WHO; performing subject investigations and laboratory assessments to raised perceive if Omicron has completely different transmission or illness traits, or impacts effectiveness of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics or public well being and social measures.  Extra element in the announcement from 26 November.  

International locations ought to proceed to implement the efficient public well being measures to cut back COVID-19 circulation total, utilizing a danger evaluation and science-based methodThey need to enhance some public well being and medical capacities to handle a rise in instances.  WHO is offering international locations with help and steering for each readiness and response.  

As well as, it’s vitally vital that inequities in entry to COVID-19 vaccines are urgently addressed to make sure that susceptible teams in all places, together with well being employees and older individuals, obtain their first and second doses, alongside equitable entry to therapy and diagnostics.  


Advisable actions for individuals 

The best steps people can take to cut back the unfold of the COVID-19 virus is to maintain a bodily distance of at the least 1 metre from others; put on a well-fitting masks; open home windows to enhance air flow; keep away from poorly ventilated or crowded areas; maintain fingers clear; cough or sneeze right into a bent elbow or tissue; and get vaccinated when it’s their flip.  

WHO will proceed to supply updates as extra info turns into accessible, together with following conferences of the TAG-VE. As well as, info will likely be accessible on WHO’s digital and social media platforms. 


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