WHO Names New Covid Variant Omicron

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WHO Names New Covid Variant Omicron

The World Health Organization (WHO) named the newest variant of Covid, Omicron, and they have said this newest variant is to be “of concern”. 

Omicron was first reported from South Africa in late November this year and has also been found in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel. The newest development is now leading to many governments restricting travel to South Africa.  South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla told reporters that the flight bans were “unjustified”. He continued, “The reaction of some of the countries, in terms of imposing travel bans, and such measures, are completely against the norms and standards as guided by the World Health Organization.”

The WHO says that Omicron is increasing in almost every South Africa province. The UN public health body said, “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.  The first known confirmed infection was from a specimen collected on November 9th.”

A top health official in the UK said that the vaccines are likely to be less effective against Omicron.  However, professor James Naismith, a structural biologist from the University of Oxford, said this news is “Bad news – but not doomsday.” 

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group, noted that only a quarter of South Africa’s population is fully vaccinated which does not spell good news for the rate at which the new variant could spread there.

The US infectious disease chief Dr Anthony Fauci said it is possible that the vaccines will still work to prevent serious illness.  He continued, “Until it’s properly tested… we don’t know whether or not it evades the antibodies that protect you against the virus.”

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