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WHO says Omicron spreads quicker and degrades vaccinations

According to preliminary evidence, the Omicron coronavirus variation is more transmissible than the Delta strain and lowers vaccination effectiveness while causing less severe symptoms, according to the World Health Organization. The Delta type, which was initially discovered in India earlier this year, is responsible for the majority of coronavirus infections worldwide.

However, the discovery of Omicron in South Africa last month spurred nations around the world to impose travel bans on southern African countries and reinstall internal restrictions in order to halt the spread of the virus.

Also read: The first’suspected case’ of Omicron variant in Pakistan has been reported in Karachi

The WHO said Omicron had spread to 63 countries as of December 9. Faster transmission was noted in South Africa, where Delta is less prevalent, and in Britain, where Delta is the dominant strain.

But it stressed that a lack of data meant it could not say if Omicron’s rate of transmission was because it was less prone to immune responses, higher transmissibility or a combination of both.

Early evidence suggests Omicron causes “a reduction in vaccine efficacy against infection and transmission”, the WHO said in a technical brief.

“Given the current available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” it added.

Also read: Pakistan has imposed travel restrictions on eight additional nations

Omicron infections have so far caused “mild” illness or asymptomatic cases, but the WHO said the data was insufficient to establish the variant’s clinical severity.

South Africa reported Omicron to the WHO on November 24. Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer/BioNTech last week said three doses of their jabs were still effective against Omicron.

Countries with sufficient vaccine supplies such as Britain and France have encouraged their populations to receive a third “booster” jab to fight Omicron.

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