WHO: Omicron detected in 89 countries, cases rapidly double

VIENNA (AP) – The omicron variant of the coronavirus has been detected in 89 countries, and COVID-19 cases involving the variant are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in places with community transmission and not just infections acquired from the foreigner, the World Health Organization said on Saturday.

Omicron’s “substantial growth advantage” over the delta variant means that it is likely to soon overtake delta as the dominant form of the virus in countries where the new variant is spreading locally, the United Nations health agency.

WHO has noted that omicron is spreading rapidly even in countries with high vaccination rates or where a significant proportion of the population has recovered from the population’s immunity levels to COVID-1.

It remains unclear whether the rapid growth of omicron cases is due to the variant eluding existing immunity, being inherently more transmissible than previous variants, or a combination of the two, the WHO said.

Other major questions about omicron remain unanswered, including the effectiveness of each of the existing COVID-19 vaccines against it. There is also no conclusive data on how omicron renders patients with COVID-19, the health agency said.

The WHO first identified the omicron as a variant of concern on November 26.

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