WHO Says ‘Very High’ Global Risk from New Covid Variant

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World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned on Monday that the Omicron variety of coronavirus’s diverging design could drive future outbreaks with “severe repercussions.” The UN health agency said in a technical briefing document for its member nations that the chance of Omicron spreading further at a global level is high, and the total danger associated with the new variety of concerns has been assessed as “very high”.

“Future surges of Covid-19, depending on these features, could have catastrophic repercussions, depending on a variety of circumstances, including where surges may occur,” the paper concluded.

Omicron is currently being transmitted locally in South Africa, and the variant has now been found in four WHO regions: African, Eastern Mediterranean, European, and Western Pacific. The majority of cases outside of Africa are travel-related, according to the UN agency, which expects local transmission in other countries as more information becomes available.

To combat the spread of the novel viral variant, the WHO has recommended a number of priority actions for member nations, including increased surveillance and sequencing efforts and widespread adoption of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.’s PCR test to detect the variant.

Here are some of WHO’s initial recommendations for member states:

  • In addition to increased surveillance and sequencing efforts, the UN health agency has recommended field research and laboratory analyses to better understand Omicron’s properties.
  • Because Omicron is indicated by S gene target failure (SGTF) from a commonly used PCR test, the SGTF can be utilized as a marker for this variant, potentially leading to efficient detection of the variant of concern.
  • Initial cases/clusters related to Omicron should be reported to WHO, as well as the percentage of Omicron in sequenced samples.
  • Increase immunization coverage of Covid-19 as soon as possible.
  • To change foreign travel measures in a timely manner, a risk-based strategy is used. For more information, the WHO has advised checking its upcoming guidelines on international traffic in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron strain.

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