Omicron: Don’t Panic, Be Cautious, WHO Chief Scientist Urges People

Geneva: The chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan urged people on Friday to not panic over the emergence of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 and said it was too early to say if vaccines would need to be reworked.

Swaminathan said during an interview at the Reuters Next conference that it’s not possible to predict if Omicron would be a dominant strain.

Omicron has already been found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe and has spread in seven of the nine South African provinces, where it was first identified. Several governments have put travel restrictions in place to keep the variant out.

According to Swaminathan, Omicron “was highly transmissible”.

“How worried should we be? We need to be prepared and cautious, not panic, because we’re in a different situation to a year ago,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“Delta accounts for 99% of infections around the world. This variant would have to be more transmissible to out-compete and become dominant worldwide. It is possible, but it’s not possible to predict,” she said.

The WHO said on Friday that the Omicron variant has so far been found in 38 countries but no deaths have yet been reported, the WHO said on Friday

“We need to wait, let’s hope it’s milder… but it’s too early to conclude about the variant as a whole,” the chief scientist said.

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