WHO warns that Omicron is still a dangerous virus

Coronavirus infections in America almost doubled in the last week, boosted by the Omicron variant, reaching 6.1 million cases as of January 8, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (OPS), Carissa Etienne.

Cases are rapidly accelerating in all corners of the Americas, Etienne told a news conference, and health systems are facing challenges as hospitalizations rise.

“Infections rapidly accelerated during the Christmas season, reaching levels of transmission never seen before during this pandemic,” Etienne said.

“However, thanks to the protective power of vaccines, deaths from COVID-19 are not increasing with the current wave of infections,” he added.

While the delta variant continues to cause new infections in the region, based on current trends, Omicron is on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the Americas, Etienne estimated. Currently, 42 countries and dependencies of the 60 of America have detected it in their territory.

Omicron, the most contagious variant of the coronavirus so far, has generated record daily cases in the United States and Europe as more governments around the world re-impose mobility restrictions to curb cases.

With 62% of its population inoculated with a complete scheme, America is the region with the highest percentage of vaccination against Covid-19. However, PAHO officials assured on Wednesday that there are still many without protection, especially minors and people with pre-existing illnesses.

Etienne called on governments in the region to prioritize booster vaccination for health personnel, as the new wave of infections will not be “mild” and is already challenging the workforce in hospitals and clinics.

Omicron is still a dangerous virus, WHO warns

The Omicron variant, which is infecting people at a rate the world has not seen since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, “it is still a dangerous virus” even if it causes less serious symptoms, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Although Ómicron causes less severe symptoms than delta (the until now dominant variant), it is still a dangerous virus, especially for those who are not vaccinated,” said the organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a press conference.

The variant, which was first identified in southern Africa in late November 2021, has spread rapidly around the world.

Less severe symptoms — especially for those fully vaccinated and on a booster dose — than those of the Delta variant lead some to think it is a benign disease.

But “more transmission means more hospitalizations, more deaths, more people who cannot go to work, including teachers and health personnel, and more risk of the emergence of another more transmissible and more deadly variant than omicron,” said the head of the institution. .

“It is not a benign disease, it is a disease that we can prevent with vaccines,” said Michael Ryan, in charge of emergency situations at the WHO.

“This is not the time to give up, this is not the time to lower our guard, this is not the time to say that it is a welcome virus, no virus is welcome,” he warned.

Some think that Omicron and its high level of transmission can replace the most dangerous variants and transform the pandemic into an endemic disease that is easy to combat.


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