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WHO says it is not yet clear if Omicron causes more severe disease

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By Reuters
WHO agrees to launch talks on pact to tackle pandemics
WHO agrees to launch talks on pact to tackle pandemics   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p><span class="caps">GENEVA</span> – The World Health Organization (<span class="caps">WHO</span>) said on Sunday that it is not yet clear if the new Omicron coronavirus variant is more transmissible compared to other <span class="caps">SARS</span>-CoV-2 variants or if it causes more severe disease.</p> <p>“Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron,” it said.</p> <p>However, in a statement, the agency reiterated that preliminary evidence suggests there may be a higher risk of reinfection from the variant.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">WHO</span> said it is working with technical experts to understand the potential impact of the variant on existing countermeasures against <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 disease, including vaccines.</p> <p>“There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants,” the <span class="caps">WHO</span> said.</p> <p>“Initial reported infections were among university studies —younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease — but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks,” it said.</p> <p><span class="caps">PCR</span> tests continue to detect infection with Omicron – which was first detected in South Africa earlier this month – and studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on rapid antigen detection tests, the <span class="caps">WHO</span> said. </p> <p/> </div>