WHO: Omicron Poses Very High Global Risk

On November 29, 2021, World Health Organization (WHO) warned that; the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus called “Omicron” poses very high global risk.

Highlights

  • Early evidence shows that, this highly mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with ‘severe consequences.’
  • It also noted that, “considerable uncertainties’’ remain about Omicron, which was first detected in southern Africa, some days ago.
  • It warned that, it is possible that the variant has mutations, which would enable it to escape an immune-system response. Mutations would also boost its ability to spread from one person to another.
  • WHO issued warning as several countries reported cases of this variant and started putting restrictions.
  • Spain is the latest countries to report its first confirmed case of Omicron variant.

Steps taken by countries

  • Japan and Israel announced to bar entry of all foreign visitors.
  • Morocco banned all incoming flights.
  • Other countries, including U.S. and European Union members, banned travellers arriving from southern Africa.

Are Omicron variant cases there in India?

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in Rajya Sabha that, no case of Omicron variant has been reported in India so far.

SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant

This variant was first reported on November 24, 2021 to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa. On 26 November, the Technical Advisory Group of WHO on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution declared PANGO lineage B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern and named it as omicron. Variant has unusually a large number of mutations. Thirty-two mutations affect the spike protein, which is the main antigenic target of antibodies.

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