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The omicron variant poses a ‘very high’ risk to the world, experts say

Why the omicron COVID-19 variant poses a high threat to the entire world

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, speaks at the WHO headquarters.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization speaks at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 24, 2021 .
Laurent Gillieron, Keystone via Associated Press

The omicron COVID-19 variant poses a “very high” risk to the world, the World Health Organization said Monday.

In a new risk-assessment statement, the WHO said that the new coronavirus variant poses such a big threat to the world because it might be more transmissible compared to other strains of the virus.

The variant could likely create more COVID-19 surges around the world and put pressure on health care systems, according to the WHO.

  • “The overall global risk related to the new (variant of concern) Omicron is assessed as very high,” the WHO said in a statement.
  • “Increasing cases, regardless of a change in severity, may pose overwhelming demands on health care systems and may lead to increased morbidity and mortality,” the WHO said.
  • “The impact on vulnerable populations would be substantial, particularly in countries with low vaccination coverage,” according to WHO.

Over the weekend, the World Health Organization warned of a new COVID-19 variant, naming it after the Greek alphabet letter “omicron,” as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • The WHO said the variant was one of concern due to its potential for high transmissibility.

So far there have been reported cases of omicron across Europe, North America and Africa. The variant was originally discovered in Botswana before South African researchers unveiled new research about the variant to the world.

  • The variant — which has the scientific name B.1.1.529 — has at least 30 mutations in the spike protein and 10 mutations in the ACE2 receptor, which means the variant might evade vaccines and spread farther and faster than other variants, as I wrote for the Deseret News.