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WHO: Risk of Omicron still very high

December 29, 2021 - Wednesday 11:12 AM by Joy Catleya Antonio

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The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the risk of Omicron variant remains "very high."

This is after the COVID-19 cases increased by 11% around the globe last week compared to the previous week. 

"The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high," the WHO said. 

"Consistent evidence shows that the Omicron variant has a growth advantage over the Delta variant with a doubling time of two to three days and rapid increases in the incidence of cases is seen in a number of countries," the UN health agency added.

In the United States and Britain, the Omicron has become the dominant variant. 

WHO explained that the rapid growth rate is likely to be a combination of "both immune evasion and intrinsic increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant."

But in South Africa where the variant was first reported, a 29% decrease was recorded in the incidence of cases.

More data are still needed to understand the severity of Omicron in terms of clinical markers, which include death, use of mechanical ventilation, and oxygen. 

"It is also expected that corticosteroids and interleukin 6 receptor blockers will remain effective in the management of patients with severe disease," it said. 

"However, preliminary data suggest that monoclonal antibodies may be less able to neutralize the Omicron variant," WHO added.

The new cases in the week ending Sunday corresponded to just under five million new cases, while the deaths decreased by 4% or over 44,000 new fatalities.