Features of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, including the grade to which it will spread, and the sheer number of mutations, suggest that it could person a large interaction connected the people of the pandemic, but it’s still too aboriginal to accidental for sure. 

That was 1 cardinal takeaway from Wednesday’s latest play briefing connected the microorganism from WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, speaking to journalists in Geneva.  

So far, Omicron has been reported successful 57 countries, and WHO expects the number to continue growing. 

Tedros highlighted “a accordant representation of accelerated summation successful transmission” but said that the exact complaint of summation comparative to different variants remains hard to quantify. 

Despite immoderate information from South Africa suggesting increased hazard of re-infection with Omicron, much data is needed. The variant might also cause milder illness than Delta, but there is no definitive answer yet. 

“New information are emerging each day, but scientists request clip to implicit studies and construe the results. We indispensable beryllium cautious astir drafting steadfast conclusions until we person a much implicit picture”, Tedros explained.  

In this context, the WHO chief called on each countries to summation surveillance, investigating and sequencing. 

“Any complacency present volition outgo lives”, helium warned.  

‘Act now’ 

Even though the world still needs answers to immoderate important questions, Tedros said radical everywhere are not defenceless against Omicron, oregon Delta. 

“The steps countries instrumentality today, and successful the coming days and weeks volition find however Omicron unfolds. If countries hold until their hospitals commencement to capable up, it’s excessively late. Don’t wait. Act now”, helium said.  

Tedros besides asked countries to avoid “ineffective and discriminatory” travel bans. 

This week, France and Switzerland person lifted their question bans connected confederate African countries, and Tedros urge different countries to travel their lead.  

WHO’s work 

Every day, the UN Agency is convening thousands of experts astir the satellite to stock and analyse information and thrust probe forward. 

For example, the Technical Advisory Group for Virus Evolution is assessing Omicron’s effect connected transmission, illness severity, vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.   

The Joint Advisory Group connected COVID-19 Therapeutics Prioritization is analysing the imaginable effects of Omicron connected attraction of hospitalized patients. 

The R&D Blueprint for Epidemics is working with researchers to place cognition gaps, and the Technical Advisory Group for COVID-19 Vaccine Composition, is assessing impacts connected existent vaccines and determining whether changes are needed. 

No ‘forced’ vaccines: UN rights chief  

Also connected Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that “in nary circumstances should radical beryllium forcibly administered a vaccine”. 

In a video code to the Human Rights Council, Ms. Bachelet maintained that it was “profoundly fortunate” that aesculapian probe had enabled vaccine improvement to determination truthful swiftly to forestall the astir terrible forms of the coronavirus

But the UN Human Rights chief warned that it seemed precise improbable that the people of protecting 40 per cent of the world's colonisation by the extremity of 2021 volition beryllium met. And the people of 70 per cent by mid-2022 besides appears unrealistic astatine this stage, Ms. Bachelet said.