WHO names new Covid variant from South Africa Omicron


The new South Africa Covid variant scientifically labelled B.1.1.529 has been named Omicron and the World Health Organization (WHO) has tagged it as a ‘variant of concern’ with health experts warning that the strain discovered in South Africa may spread more quickly than other forms even as preliminary evidence suggest that there is an increased risk of reinfection.


GENEVA, Switzerland — The discovery of the new coronavirus variant named Omicron triggered global alarm, triggering countries to rush in suspending travel from southern Africa while stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic suffered their biggest falls in more than a year.

But epidemiologists cautioned that travel curbs may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating globally.

Though first discovered in South Africa, the mutations have since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.

Going further, Canada has already closed its borders to travelers coming from these countries, following bans on flights announced by Britain, the European Union and others.

Despite the mitigation efforts, WHO disclosed that it could take weeks for scientists to fully understand the variant’s mutations and whether existing vaccines and treatments are effective against it.

Omicron is the fifth variant of concern designated by the WHO. The UK Health Security Agency described the variant as having a spike protein that is dramatically different than the one in the original coronavirus that vaccines are based on, thus raising fears about how current vaccines will fare.

“This new variant of the COVID-19 virus is very worrying. It is the most heavily mutated version of the virus we have seen to date,” University of Warwick virologist Lawrence Young revealed.

“Some of the mutations that are similar to changes we’ve seen in other variants of concern are associated with enhanced transmissibility and with partial resistance to immunity induced by vaccination or natural infection,” Young added. (TRC/Headline PH)


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