WHO labels new COVID strain Omicron, designates it a ‘variant of concern’

The latest COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa has been given the Greek name ‘Omicron’, and labeled as a variant of concern by UN health agency experts due to its large number of mutations and possible faster rate of infection. 

According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), preliminary evidence also suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant of concern, as compared to other strains, such as Delta.

On Wednesday, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said the information about the now ‘Omicron’ variant is still limited. Dr. Kerkhove explained that researchers are currently trying to determine where the mutations areand what they potentially mean for diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

The WHO officials reminded previous advice: people can do a lot to protect themselves from COVID, including by continuing to wear masks and avoiding crowds. More