Omicron variant detected in more countries following ‘VOC’ classification

Omicron variant detected in more countries following 'VOC' classification

The Omicron variant is potentially more contagious than the Delta strain, considering experts found 30 mutations on its spike protein.

Many countries are seeing a surge in new COVID-19 cases these past few weeks. One of the possible culprits is the Omicron variant, a new strain that experts detected on Wednesday.

Experts and scientists are still in the process of gathering information about the new COVID-19 variant. Despite the lack of data and confirmation, though, fears and worries have since grown among the public across the globe.

It is not surprising, however, considering the World Health Organization has already classified it as a new Variant of Concern (VOC). This comes as early evidence suggests that it poses more risks than the previous strains. Moreover, it has already spread across numerous countries.

Omicron variant spreads globally

Health officials and experts have detected the Omicron variant in several parts of the globe. They have found cases across Europe, specifically in Britain, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Outside the region, the variant has also reached Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Botswana, and South Africa.

The detection of the primary cases has triggered global alarm, according to Channel News Asia. Many governments across the globe have since “scrambled” to impose new restrictions and measures.

Some countries have already started to place bans and limits on travels, particularly a ban on South Africa, where experts first found the variant.

About the new Variant of Concern

Experts from South Africa first reported the Omicron variant to the World Health Organization on November 24. The health agency said that the first known confirmed case was from a November 9 specimen.

About the new Variant of Concern

Although it will take weeks, even months, to understand the new strain, the WHO has already classified it as a “VOC” on November 26. This means that the strain “could be more transmissible, more virulent, and more able to evade” protection obtained from the vaccines, according to Vox.

The same publication noted that experts also found more than 30 mutations on the variant’s spike protein. This reportedly suggests that it could be more infectious, even to those who have already completed their vaccinations.

Vaccines remain the best protection

Dr. Anthony Fauci echoed the same analysis regarding the new Variant of Concern (VOC). Speaking on ABC’s This Week, he said that the mutations “strongly suggest” it, adding that it could even evade protection obtained from both vaccination and previous infection.

The U.S.’ top infectious disease expert, nevertheless, argued that “vaccines still work,” even against the Omicron variant. He said that the jabs are still the “best way” to get protection against the virus.

Images courtesy of 11Alive/YouTube

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