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At least 23 countries reported Omicron variant — WHO

2 December 2021 13:19

GENEVA. KAZINFORM - At least 23 countries have reported identifying the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which was first detected in South Africa, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said on Wednesday, TASS reports.

«At least 23 countries have now reported cases of Omicron and we expect that number to grow,» he said at a news conference.

The countries are located in the five of six WHO regions, he said. The organization «takes this development extremely seriously» and countries should do so as well, he said. Omicron studies are underway but there’s still more to learn about its transmissibility, the severity of disease and the effectiveness of tests, therapeutics and vaccines, he said.

Several WHO advisory groups have met in the last few days to «evaluate the emerging evidence and prioritize the studies needed to answer these questions,» the director-general said.

Ghebreyesus thanked South Africa and Botswana for identifying the Omicron variant, its prompt sequencing and passing on the results. He said it’s «deeply concerning» that these countries are now «being penalized by others for doing the right thing.»

On November 26, the WHO designated the new Covid-19 strain, which was detected in southern Africa, as Omicron. The WHO stated the variant had a high number of mutations, some of which cause concern. Some of the mutations may confer immune escape potential and therefore affect the efficacy of vaccines.