WHO: Omicron variant more transmissible, decreases vaccine efficacy
The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned that the newer Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) of SARS-CoV-2 is more transmissible than the Delta strain and decreases vaccination efficacy while causing less severe symptoms, based on early findings.
However, due to a lack of data, the global health organisation on Sunday said it couldn’t tell if the higher rate of transmission was due to lower susceptibility to immune responses, higher transmissibility, or a combination of both.
Early findings revealed that the newer strain Omicron caused “a decline in vaccination effectiveness against infection and transmission,” according to a technical brief released by the World Health Organization. “Given the existing findings, Omicron is expected to surpass the Delta variation where community transmission occurs,” it said.
The WHO also stated that the data was insufficient to determine the clinical severity of the new strain, which has prompted several countries to impose flight restrictions and other travel restrictions from southern African countries.
As of December 9, Omicron cases had been reported from as many as 63 nations, according to the UN health agency. The United Kingdom and South Africa were among the nations where infections spread more quickly. Previously, the Delta variety was less common in South Africa, but it was the most common in Britain.
As of December 12, many Indian states have also reported cases of the Omicron variant, bringing the overall number of illnesses associated with the strain to 38.
The variant was initially discovered in South Africa, and it was declared a variant of concern by the WHO in November.
Pfizer and BioNTech, the manufacturers of the Covid-19 vaccine, announced last week that preliminary laboratory testing indicated that three doses of the vaccine were effective against the Omicron variant.