Since the omicron virus was discovered it is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta. Even though data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, where the virus was first detected, this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of a specific infection with Omicron. There is no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants.
As reported earlier the infections were among university students these are younger individuals who tend to have the more mild cases. understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take time . All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key.
There has been evidence suggesting there may be an increased risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant as compared to other variants of concern, but the information is limited. The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.
Meanwhile there’s there are several actions WHO recommends countries to undertake as omicron has been designated a Variant of Concern. These include; enhancing surveillance and sequencing of cases; sharing genome sequences on publicly available databases, reporting initial cases or clusters to WHO; performing field investigations and laboratory assessments to better understand if Omicron has different transmission or disease characteristics, or impacts effectiveness of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics or public health and social measures.
A technical advisory group established by the World Health Organization said on Tuesday that current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated to ensure they are effective against new variants like Omicron. Although it is and highly infectious and less severe than the delta variant it still remains dangerous to those who are unvaccinated
Also, Countries should continue to implement effective public health measures to reduce COVID-19 circulation overall. They should increase some public health and medical capacities to manage an increase in cases. WHO is providing countries with support and guidance for both readiness and response.