Omicron quickly overtaking Delta globally, says WHO

United Nations: Omicron is rapidly overtaking the Delta variant of COVID-19 and changing into dominant all over the world, a senior WHO official has warned, with the worldwide well being company cautioning that there’s “rising proof” Omicron is ready to evade immunity however has much less illness severity as in comparison with different variants.

It might take a while for Omicron to overhaul Delta in some international locations, as a result of it will depend on the extent of circulation of the Delta variant in these international locations, Infectious Illness Epidemiologist and COVID-19 Technical Lead on the World Well being Organisation (WHO) Maria Van Kerkhove stated on Tuesday.

Omicron has been detected in all international locations the place we’ve got good sequencing and it’s more likely to be in all international locations all over the world. It’s rapidly, by way of its circulation, overtaking Delta. And so Omicron is changing into the dominant variant that’s being detected, Kerkhove stated throughout a digital questions and solutions session.

She additional cautioned that although there may be some info that Omicron causes much less extreme illness than Delta, it’s not a light illness as a result of individuals are nonetheless being hospitalized for Omicron.

The COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Replace, launched by the WHO, stated that over 15 million new COVID-19 circumstances had been reported globally within the week of January 3-9, a 55 per cent improve as in comparison with the earlier week when about 9.5 million circumstances had been reported.

Over 43,000 new deaths had been reported prior to now week. As of 9 January, over 304 million confirmed COVD-19 circumstances and over 5.4 million deaths have been reported.

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The best numbers of recent circumstances had been reported from the US (4,610,359 new circumstances; a 73 per cent improve), France (1,597,203 new circumstances; a 46 per cent improve), the UK (1,217,258 new circumstances; a ten per cent improve), Italy (1,014,358 new circumstances; a 57 per cent improve) and India (638,872 new circumstances; a 524 per cent improve), the replace stated.

Kerkhove stated the 15 million circumstances reported within the final seven days are a file excessive on this pandemic and are an underestimate given the challenges in surveillance all over the world and COVID-19 self-tests at dwelling that aren’t registered.

The WHO replace stated that the Omicron variant has a considerable progress benefit and is quickly changing different variants.

This variant has been proven to have a shorter doubling time as in comparison with earlier variants, with transmission occurring even amongst these vaccinated or with a historical past of prior SARS-CoV-2 an infection; there may be rising proof that this variant is ready to evade immunity, the replace stated.

It stated that by way of illness severity, there may be rising proof that the Omicron variant is much less extreme as in comparison with different variants.

Citing a non-peer-reviewed retrospective cohort research from the US, the replace stated the findings counsel that whereas absolutely the variety of circumstances and hospitalisations amongst kids are presently rising within the US, the chance of hospitalisation nonetheless stays decrease in comparison with different age teams through the interval when Omicron is circulating as in comparison with the interval when the Delta variant was dominant.

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The replace additionally famous that since December, six research have supplied proof of lowered vaccine effectiveness (VE) of COVID-19 vaccines towards the Omicron variant.

“Whereas early VE estimates towards the Omicron variant ought to be interpreted with warning resulting from potential biases, these preliminary outcomes present proof of lowered general effectiveness of vaccines towards the Omicron variant, with better declines in effectiveness with rising time since vaccination, relative to Delta… Whereas a booster vaccination seems to enhance VE towards an infection and hospitalisation as a result of Omicron variant, extra knowledge are wanted to evaluate each the magnitude and length of the safety, the replace stated.

The WHO Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC) stated that as coronavirus evolves, the composition of present COVID-19 vaccines could should be up to date, to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines proceed to offer WHO-recommended ranges of safety towards an infection and illness by VOCs, together with Omicron and future variants.

Kerkhove added that as Omicron enters and circulates amongst weak populations, we are going to see improve in hospitalisations and deaths. So please deal with this virus as critically because it must be handled. The narrative that it’s the frequent chilly just isn’t true. The narrative that it’s simply delicate just isn’t true. So we’ve got to essentially combat towards it. It’s not the time to surrender.

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