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Omicron: It is not yet clear whether the variant is more transmissible, says WHO

GENEVA – The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday it was still unclear whether the novel coronavirus Omicron variant is more transmissible than other SARS-CoV-2 variants or if it causes more severe illness. .

“Preliminary data suggest an increasing hospitalization rate in South Africa, but this may be due to an increasing total number of people infected, and not to a specific infection with Omicron,” it said.

However, in a statement, the agency reiterated that preliminary evidence suggests there may be a higher risk of reinfection from this variant.

WHO says it is working with technical experts to understand the potential impact of this variant on existing countermeasures against COVID-19 disease, including vaccines.

There is currently no information to suggest that Omicron-associated symptoms differ from those from other variants.

“The initial reported infections were among the university studies – young people tend to have a milder illness – but understanding the severity of the Omicron variant will take days to some week”.

PCR tests continue to detect Omicron infections – first detected in South Africa earlier this month – and studies are continuing to determine if there is any impact on the tests. antigens rapidly or not, the WHO said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay Editing by Frances Kerry

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