President Biden Briefed on New Covid Variant Dubbed ‘Omicron’ by WHO on Friday


The Delta variant of Covid has been a major story for some time now, but on Friday World Health Organization announced the name for a new, worrying variant: Omicron.

President Joe Biden has been briefed on the new Omicron variant, which is reportedly spreading in South Africa.

According to the WHO:

The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 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. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.

The WHO added, “Individuals are reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.”

This variant has caused countries worldwide to impose new restrictions on travel from southern Africa, reported The New York Times.

Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.

Watch above, via MSNBC.

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