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HIGHLIGHTS:

  • WHO raised an alarm for the serious effects of Covid-19 Omicron variant
  • Omicron has over 30 mutations and some of which are concerned about their potential impact
  • The UN agency has urged all the member countries to boost vaccination drives and prepare for the Omicron variant

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that the risk related to the Covid-19 variant Omicron is very high. Earlier, it had been said that it was ‘not yet clear’ if the newly discovered strain was more transmissible than previously identified strains. The B.1.1.529 strain was first detected in South Africa earlier this month and has since been detected in 14 countries.

This strain has more than 30 mutations. This is the highest number of mutations among all the known strains of Covid-19. “Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerned for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic,” the WHO noted.

The UN agency has urged all the member countries to boost vaccination drives and prepare for the Omicron variant. It said that Covid-19 best practices like hand-washing, wearing masks, and maintaining physical distance still remain the key to preventing infection. The WHO further noted that researchers in South Africa and elsewhere were working to gather more information on the variant and would share them as and when they become available.

However, it is likely to take several weeks to determine factors like whether this strain is more transmissible or causes more severe disease or the effectiveness of vaccines against it.

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