WHO working with scientists from across world to understand omicron better
- South African scientists said symptoms among younger people are mild
- WHO said it will take several days to ascertain the severity of the new variant of coronavirus
- The Netherlands on Sunday reported 13 omicron cases.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is working in tandem with scientists from across the world to gain a better understanding of the omicron variant of the coronavirus after health experts in South Africa, where the variant was first detected, said it appeared to cause only mild symptoms.
Since the omicron was detected in the South African city of Pretoria, there is little information available to ascertain that the new variant is more infectious than other variants.
Some of the earliest cases, found among college students in South Africa, suggested younger people who contacted omicron are more likely to experience less severe illness from COVID-19. The United Nations’ health wing, WHO said understanding the level of severity of the new strain “will take days to several weeks”, reported Bloomberg.
At this moment, countries across the world have imposed travel bans on South Africa and five other African countries, where omicron was detected, amid fear that the new variant could breach immunity built after vaccination.
Investors wait for more clarity
While news of the new variant disrupted global stock markets on Friday, trading in Asia on Monday indicated investors were waiting for more clarity, as scientists from the United States to Asia work to understand more about omicron’s nature, and how lethal it is compared with other strains.
On Sunday, 13 omicron cases were identified in the Netherlands and one in the United Kingdom which suggested the new variant is spreading quickly in Europe.
Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it will “inevitably" arrive in the US, urging people to get vaccines and boosters as prevention.
In the wake of omicron’s emergence, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said vaccination drives in poorer countries must be improved, hinting at the slow vaccination drive in Africa. “We won’t be protected until we are all vaccinated," Lagarde told Italy’s Rai 3 in a live television interview. “If some companies can deliver packages everywhere, I’m sure we can do that with vaccines too."