Consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant: WHO chief – The Hindu BusinessLine

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People who have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 could be infected or re-infected, he says

The World Health Organisation on Monday warned against the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

“And it is more likely that people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 could be infected or re-infected,” he further added.

The WHO Chief in his opening remarks at the briefing had said, “More than 3.3 million people have lost their lives to Covid-19 this year – more deaths than from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined in 2020.”

“And still, Covid-19 continues to claim around 50,000 lives every week,” he said.

The WHO Chief further warned against increased social mixing over the holidays, which can lead to increased cases.

“There can be no doubt that increased social mixing over the holiday period in many countries will lead to increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths,” the WHO Chief said.

“All of us are sick of this pandemic. All of us want to spend time with friends and family. All of us want to get back to normal. The fastest way to do that is for all of us – leaders and individuals – to make the difficult decisions that must be made to protect ourselves and others,” he said.

“In some cases, that will mean cancelling or delaying events – just as we have had to cancel the reception we planned to have with you today. But an event cancelled is better than a life cancelled,” he added.

The WHO Chief’s remarks are consistent with a recent study by the Imperial College of London which found that the chances of reinfection with Omicron were 5.4 times greater than the Delta variant, which suggests that the protection against reinfection by Omicron afforded by past infection may be as low as 19 per cent.

The study, based on data from UK Health Security Agency and National Health Service on people who tested positive for Covid-19 in PCR tests in England between November 29 and December 11, looked at how the Omicron largely evades immunity from past infection or two vaccine doses.

Ghebreyesus further emphasised on increased vaccinations to end the pandemic next year.

“If we are to end the pandemic in the coming year, we must end inequity, by ensuring 70 per cent of the population of every country is vaccinated by the middle of next year,” he said.

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