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It's too soon to decide Omicron's severity compared to Delta: WHO

Its too soon to decide Omicrons severity compared to Delta: WHO

Amidst mixed reports on the true impact of Omicron variant of coronavirus, WHO on Wednesday said that it does not yet have enough data on the variant to say if it is more severe than the Delta variant.

In a briefing with media, WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove said that they have received data suggesting that rates of hospitalisation are lower.

But she cautioned against drawing conclusions from the early data because we have not seen the variant circulate long enough in populations around the world, certainly in vulnerable populations.

She said the data on the new variant, first identified in southern Africa and Hong Kong in November, was still "messy" as countries reported its arrival and spread.

"We have been asking people to be cautious, we have been asking countries to be cautious, and to really think, especially as these holidays are coming up."

Meanwhile, a study conducted in the United Kingdom also suggested that there's no evidence the Omicron variant causes less severe reactions than the Delta variant.

"The study finds no evidence of Omicron having lower severity than Delta, judged by either the proportion of people testing positive who report symptoms, or by the proportion of cases seeking hospital care after infection," says a blog post by researchers from the U.K.'s Imperial College London. "However, hospitalization data remains very limited at this time."

A South African study published on Wednesday suggested that those infected with Omicron were significantly less likely to end up in hospital than those with Delta, although the authors said some of that was probably due to high levels of immunity in the population.

The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged countries to learn from the past two years of the pandemic, calling again for greater vaccine equity, in the hope of next year ending a pandemic that has killed over 5.6 million people around the world.

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TAGS:WHO Omicron Updates 
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