The recent outbreak of a new mutation has put the whole world on a standstill, once again. Slowly, crucial information about the Omicron variant is starting to be discovered and the latest data suggests that the variant is highly infectious but possibly less severe than the Delta variant.
A mild variant?
The World Health Organisation confirmed the possibility on Wednesday when WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters:
Emerging data from South Africa suggests increased risk of reinfection with Omicron.
There is also some evidence that Omicron causes milder disease than Delta.
Tedros added that more research will be needed to back the initial findings, but he also stressed the importance of staying cautious since there is very little known about this variant.
WHO officers have also warned that a mild infection doesn't mean that the variant won't severelyimpact the course of the pandemic. Tedros continued:
Certain features of omicron, including its global spread and large number of mutations, suggest it could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic.
Is it still deadly?
Scientists and medical professionals have noticed that the symptoms exhibited after infection by the Omicron variant are relatively mild, when compared to other existing lineages, but it could be deadly in more indirect ways.
WHO emergencies director, Michael Ryan, outlined that given its ability to pass on from one individual to another with ease and efficiency, it could drastically increase the number of people who have mild sickness but still access to healthcare services, which could then put a heavier burden on health systems around the world.
This toxic cycle could result in 'more people' dying. He said:
The virus is more efficient at transmitting between human beings.
And, therefore, we have to redouble our efforts to break those chains of transmission to protect ourselves to protect others.