Covid: Omicron’s spread increases the risk of more dangerous variants emerging, according to WHO

Published by Caroline J. · Photos by My B. · Published on 6 January 2022 at 08h53
As some specialists are hoping to exit the crisis thanks to Omicron, WHO tries to stay more cautious. “The more Omicron spreads, the more it transmits and the more it replicates, the more likely it is to throw out a new variant," WHO senior emergencies officer Catherine Smallwood said.

Over the past couple of days, several epidemiologists and virologists have started to have hope. Betting on Omicron’s extreme contagiousness and likely herd immunity, some of them are believing in the eventually end of the pandemic thanks to the variant first spotted in South Africa.

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Despite the record-breaking number of Covid-19 contaminations in France, some people are hoping to exit the health crisis, the end of the pandemic, and the return to normal life in the coming months. The reason behind? The Omicron variant considered at this point more contagious but less dangerous. Here is more on the matter. [Read more]

As for WHO, the organization tries to stay cautious: “The more Omicron spreads, the more it transmits and the more it replicates, the more likely it is to throw out a new variant," WHO senior emergencies officer Catherine Smallwood said this Tuesday January 4. “Now, Omicron is lethal, it can cause death... maybe a little bit less than Delta, but who's to say what the next variant might throw out," she added, suggesting the likely emergence of a potentially more serious variant.

The specialist also recalls that since the pandemic first broke out, over 100 million Covid-19 contaminations have been reported in Europe including five million over the past week of 2021. Furthermore, Catherine Smallwood added: “we are in a very dangerous phase, we are seeing infection rates rise very significantly in Western Europe, and the full impact of that is not yet clear”.

Although Omicron seems less dangerous than other variants, according to the latest studies, the specialist yet warns against the likely increase in hospitalizations related to this variant. “When you see the cases rise so significantly, that's likely to generate a lot more people with severe disease, ending up in hospital and possibly going on to die”, she explained.

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This past December 3, French Health Minister Olivier Véran said “the first signals” about the Covid Omicron variant “don’t seem to show excessive seriousness of cases compared to the Delta variant”. The observation tends to be confirmed by several studies released in late December 2021. [Read more]

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