WHO issues warning on claims Omicron causes 'mild' COVID-19
Suggesting that the Omicron variant of coronavirus causes a "mild" COVID-19 is dangerous, said a top World Health Organization (WHO) expert. While we see a lower risk of hospitalization compared to Delta, to suggest that Omicron is 'just a mild' disease is dangerous," tweeted WHO's COVID-19 Technical Lead Maria Van Kerkhove. She cautioned that even with cases of lower risk, hospitals may be overburdened.
Why does it matter?
- Experts believe that Omicron may be to blame for the ongoing global surge in infections.
- Omicron is a heavily mutated variant that is very contagious and may be able to evade immunity from prior infection or vaccination.
- Since it was first detected in South Africa in November 2021, Omicron has spread to more than 100 countries around the globe in almost three months.
'Vaccines prevent severe hospitalization'
Earlier on Tuesday, WHO Incident Manager Abdi Mahamud said vaccines such as Sinopharm and Sinovac will prevent "severe hospitalization" in Omicron cases. "We are seeing more and more studies pointing out that Omicron is infecting the upper part of the body," Mahamud told Geneva-based journalists. Omicron is a bigger concern for nations where vaccination rates are low because of Omicron's higher transmissibility he said.
COVID-19 cases across the world
Since the pandemic began in late 2019, about 2.98 million COVID-19 cases have been documented worldwide, with 2.56 million recovered as of January 6, 2022, according to data collated by Worldometers. The United States (58 million) has the highest number of reported cases, followed by India (35 million) and Brazil (22 million). COVID-19 has also claimed the lives of over 5.4 million people worldwide.
India reports over 2,600 Omicron cases
Meanwhile, India's tally of Omicron cases has reached 2,630, with cases being detected in 26 states and union territories. The worst-affected regions include Maharashtra (797 Omicron cases), Delhi (465) Rajasthan (236), Kerala (234), Karnataka (226), Gujarat (204), Tamil Nadu (121), and Telangana (94). A 73-year-old man from Rajasthan's Udaipur was also said to be the first Omicron death in India.