'Omicron is dangerous': WHO chief's warning amid global surge

By Livemint
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (AFP)

As the countries struggle to contain the Omicron-led Covid wave, the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief today warned the new Covid-19 variant is a "dangerous" virus. While speaking to reporters during a press conference, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "While Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated," news agency AFP reported.

Upholding data that only 5 per cent people of low-income countries are vaccinated against COVID-19, the WHO chief also pointed out towards the urgency to make all efforts to vaccinate 70 per cent of global populations by mid-2020.

Also read: COVID-19 threat: WHO chief thinks this one 'task' can save countless lives. Read here

The WHO Director-General, sharing data, notified that so far, only 50 per cent of the global population is fully vaccinated, 9 per cent partially vaccinated, while 41 per cent is still unvaccinated against the virus.

Sounding an alarm bell, he said on Twitter today, “We must speed up our efforts to expand production, remove trade barriers, and share doses to vaccinate 70 per cent of populations in ALL countries by mid-2022. #VaccinEquity will save countless lives."

The WHO had earlier warned that Omicron cannot be dismissed as a “common cold or a mild disease", in fact, there are reasons to worry about it. Noting that there are still risks of hospitalisation and also deaths, it asserts that the virus needs to be treated seriously. 

The global health body also pointed out 4 factors that determine the risk possessed by the COVID variant, which includes how fast it transmits, how well the vaccine works, etc.

Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead at the World Health Organisation (WHO), also pointed out that “As Omicron enters and circulates among vulnerable populations, we will see increase in hospitalisations and deaths. So please treat this virus as seriously as it needs to be treated."

As per Reuters' COVID-19 global tracker, COVID-19 infections are still rising in 126 countries. So far, 312,444,000 infections have been reported and 5,851,000 have died due to the virus globally. Countries like the US, France and Italy top the chart with most daily Covid-19 cases at 746,725 and 265,837 and 172,559, respectively. All these nations have reported high infection rate due to the Omicron spread despite having vaccinated a sizable population. 

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday stated that India added 1,94,720 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of Covid-19 cases to 3,60,70,510, which includes 4,868 cases of the Omicron variant.

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