World Health Organization has said that governments need to reassess national responses to COVID-19 and speed up vaccination programmes to tackle Omicron. However, the WHO said, it is it too early to say how well existing shots will protect against the new variant.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, the variant’s global spread suggests it could have a major impact on the COVID-19 pandemic, and the time to contain it is now before more Omicron patients are hospitalised. We call on all countries to increase surveillance, testing and sequencing, he added.
WHO emergency director Mike Ryan said that as the variant appears to be more easily spread, efforts must be redoubled to break chains of transmission.
Ryan, said while it is likely more transmissible than previous variants, Omicron is also highly unlikely to completely evade vaccine protections. While insisting that more research was needed, Ryan said there is no sign that Omicron can fully sidestep protections provided by existing Covid vaccines.
Top US scientist Anthony Fauci echoed the WHO’s view, saying Omicron does not appear worse than prior strains based on early indications – and was possibly milder. The new variant is clearly highly transmissible, very likely more so than Delta, the current dominant global strain, Fauci added.
Meanwhile, the WHO’s European region has recorded a slight drop in both COVID-19 cases and deaths last week after facing a string of weekly increases.