COVID-19 Crisis: No evidence on higher transmissibility of Omicron variant according to WHO

By the time you are reading this, you must have seen a ton of international, national and local news reports related to the Omicron variant (variant B.1.1.529) as it is feared to be more infectious and overwhelm the protection COVID-19 vaccines provide. To cut through all the noise and the paranoia, it is important to take a look at what the global health authority said about Omicron according to a Philippine News Agency (PNA) report.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

There is no evidence so far concerning the transmissibility or severity of the new Omicron strain of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday.

It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta,” the organization said in a statement.

The WHO said the increasing number of people testing positive and the rate of hospitalization in South Africa, where the new variant was first reported and thought to have originated, do not necessarily mean higher transmissibility or severity rates of the strain, noting “this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.

“There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants,” the statement added.

Based on limited information, the WHO also warned that people who have previously had Covid-19 could become re-infected more easily with Omicron as compared to other variants of concern, pointing out the need for more studies on the strain to better understand it.

Omicron is really impacting nations as I write this. Here in the Philippines, the government targeted January 2022 as the time to formally start vaccinating minors aged 5 to 11-years-old. In Israel, where a 2nd Omicron case was detected, travelers from overseas will not be allowed to use public transportation serving the airport. In the Netherlands, 13 cases of Omicron were detected among passengers on two flights that came from South Africa.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about this new development? Do all the news about Omicron make you feel scared or worried? Has everyone in your household been fully vaccinated (injected with two doses of most vaccine brands) already?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.


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