A new study in Japan found that the omicron variant of the coronavirus is 4.2 times more contagious in its early stages than the delta variant, per Barron’s.

  • “The Omicron variant transmits more, and escapes immunity built naturally and through vaccines more,” said Hiroshi Nishiura, professor of health and environmental sciences at Kyoto University who conducted the study, the report added.
  • The study used genome data from the Gauteng province in South Africa. Currently, the study hasn’t been peer-reviews or published in a scientific journal.
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On Wednesday, World Health Organization officials said that preliminary data points to high transmission rates with minor cases, still rapidly spreading across the globe, according to Economic Times.

  • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it could have a major impact on the COVID-19 pandemic and that not containing it now would result in more patient hospitalizations.
  • “We call on all countries to increase surveillance, testing and sequencing,” he said, per the report. “... Any complacency now will cost lives.”

According to CNBC, Pfizer and BioNTech said their booster dose provide high-level protection against the new variant.

  • “Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a joint statement with BioNTech.