Saturday

28th May 2022

WHO 'good news': more proof of milder Omicron symptoms

  • Omicron, first detected in November, has now been identified in at least 128 countries (Photo: Hospital CLÍNIC)
Listen to article

A senior World Health Organisation (WHO) official said on Tuesday (4 January) that hospitalisations and death rates linked to the spread of the more transmissible variant Omicron appeared to be lower than with previous strains.

"What we are seeing now is....the decoupling between the cases and the deaths," said WHO incident manager Abdi Mahamud.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He also noted that several studies suggest that Omicron appeared to affect mostly the upper respiratory tract, causing milder symptoms.

Mahamud said this could be "good news" - but warned that more research was needed to understand the full picture.

Data from South Africa, where the new variant was first identified, suggests reduced risks of hospitalisation and severe disease of those infected with Omicron.

But the top UN health official warned the situation in South Africa cannot be extrapolated to other countries because each country is unique. South Africa, for example, has a younger population than many countries in Europe.

Omicron, first detected in November, has been now identified in at least 128 countries.

And it is now expected to become the dominant variant within weeks in many places, fuelling Covid cases to record highs and increasing the burden on health care systems across the globe — especially in those countries with low vaccine uptake.

In the US, health authorities reported this week nearly one million new daily coronavirus infections and an increase in the number of hospitalisations.

In Europe, France recorded a record high of 271,000 daily new confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday while the UK breached 200,000 daily cases for the first time.

Australia, for its part, also saw a new high on Tuesday, with officials reporting 64,774 new cases.

As the Omicron variant continues to spread around the world, the WHO said that vaccine protection remains crucial.

When asked whether the vaccines will need to be modified to tackle the new variant, Mahamud said that protection against severe hospitalisation and death from Omicron is foreseen to be maintained.

"The challenge has not been the vaccine, but the vaccination of the most vulnerable populations," he added.

The WHO has urged rich nations to support vaccination in developing countries in order to have 70 percent of the world's population vaccinated by mid-2022.

The virus replicates in an environment that is "overcrowded, not ventilated and not vaccinated," said Mahamud.

"We saw it in Beta, we saw it in Delta, we saw it in Omicron, so it is in the global interest," he added.

Christmas travel disrupted by Omicron variant

The spread of the more transmissible Omicron variant of coronavirus has triggered a flurry of flight cancellations, hampering Christmas plans for millions of people.

EU leaders divided over Omicron travel rules

EU leaders failed to guarantee a coordinated approach to travel measures for the Christmas holiday season during their summit meeting. Instead they stressed that boosters shots are "crucial" and "urgent" to curb the new wave of Covid-19 infections.

Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says

The emergence of the new and more-contagious Omicron variant has revealed how "perilous and precarious" the Covid situation is and "why the world needs a new accord on pandemics," the chief of the World Health Organisation said.

WHO: Omicron to infect over half of Europeans in two months

The World Health Organization said Omicron is likely to infect more than half of the population in Europe within the next two months, threatening healthcare systems. It warned that it is too early to consider Covid as an endemic virus.

Opinion

What Europe still needs to do to save its bees

On World Bee Day, it is essential to pay homage to a variety of pollinating insects crucial for our food security. A number of EU projects contribute to their sustained survival.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us