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WHO warns risk related to Omicron as ‘very high’

Published: 29th Nov 2021 2:39 pm

Hyderabad: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday has warned that the overall global risk related to the new ‘Variant of Concern’ (VOC) Omicron is ‘very high’.   The top global health organisation, which released a technical paper on Omicron on Monday, said that the potential of the Omicron variant to spread globally is high.

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“The overall global risk related to the new VOC Omicron is assessed as very high. Given mutations that may confer immune escape potential and possibly transmissibility advantage, the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high,” the WHO said.

In the technical paper, the WHO risk assessment of Omicron VOC said that it has the potential to trigger future surges. “Depending on these characteristics, there could be future surges of Covid-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on a number of factors including where surges may take place.,” the WHO risk assessment said.

In the same technical paper, the WHO has also come-up with certain recommendations i.e. priority actions that countries must immediately take to contain further spread of Omicron.

“Enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Omicron. Where capacity exists, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the characteristics of Omicron. This should include community testing to detect if Omicron is circulating in the community,” the WHO said.

The top health organisation has also urged member countries to focus on completing the Covid vaccine administration drive. “Accelerate Covid-19 vaccination coverage as rapidly as possible, especially among populations designated as high priority who remain unvaccinated or are not yet fully vaccinated.  Use a risk-based approach to adjust international travel measures in a timely manner,” the WHO advisory said.

The WHO maintained that ‘Omicron was a highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations, including 26-32 in the spike, some of which are concerning and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility’.

The uncertainties, however, surrounding Omicron including its transmissibility, whether it can escape immunity, how well vaccines protect against infection, transmission, clinical disease of different degrees of severity, have continued, WHO added.

It also clarified that as more evidence on the nature and behaviour of Omicron variant emerges, more clarity will emerge around the key questions.

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