The COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a very high risk of infection “surges” that could have “severe consequences” in some parts of the world, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday.
He said the new variant highlights the need for a new accord on pandemics, adding that the current system “disincentivizes countries from alerting others” to potential threats.
Ghebreyesus made the comments during a special session of the World Health Assembly.
Although no Omicron-linked deaths have yet been reported, he said further research is needed to assess the variant’s potential to escape the protection offered by the vaccines.
Omicron was first identified in Nov. 24 in South Africa, where infections have risen steeply.
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