- Omicron has made its way to the UK, Germany, Italy, Israel, Belgium and Hong Kong.
- WHO has classified the new infection as a “variant of concern”.
- Omicron or B.1.1.529 strain was first confirmed from a sample collected on 9 November 2021 and was first reported to WHO on 24 November 2021.
The new, more infectious variant, Omicron, has made its way to Europe, Australia after circulation across Southern African countries for most of November. The UK, Germany, Italy, Israel, Belgium and Hong Kong reported the first cases on Saturday, while Australia reported the first confirmed infection on Sunday. The arrival of the new variant has been responded to by prompt investigations by the vaccine makers, including Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.
Must Read: US markets slip on new covid variant fears
The onset of the new infections has led the governments to take strict measures to contain or prevent the virus strain from spreading. The UK has tightened its mask-wearing rules and accelerated its testing of international arrivals. The country has also banned international flights from the southern African nations. On Saturday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that no confirmed cases of the mutated strain have been found in the country.
Copyright ©Kalkine Media 2021
On Friday, the World Health Organisation summoned the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) to assess the latest COVID-19 variant. However, there have not been any official deaths, the WHO considers the heavily mutated version dangerous with enhanced risk of reinfection. The international organisation has classified the new infection as a "variant of concern".
As per the statement released by WHO on 26 November 2021 –
“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs”
Omicron or B.1.1.529 strain was first confirmed from a sample collected on 9 November 2021 and was first reported to WHO on 24 November 2021. While many countries across the globe have re-imposed restrictions on international travel, the new variant may have already made its way to several more countries.
In recent weeks, South Africa has recorded a steep rise in confirmed cases of infections. So far, only less than 6% of people in Africa have been immunised against coronavirus, along with a large section of health workers yet to receive the first dose of vaccination.
The arrival of the new variant has panicked the new global economies. On Friday, the equities market dipped on the possibility of a new wave. Further, the uncertainty associated with the efficacy of the existing vaccines against the new variant has heightened the stress on the government bodies.