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Omicron variant can infect vaccinated people and reinfect recovered patients, WHO warns

The WHO warned the omicron COVID-19 variant can infect vaccinated people.

An Exam Corp Lab employee talks with a patient for COVID-19 testing.
An Exam Corp Lab employee, right, wears a mask as she talks with a patient lined up for COVID-19 testing in Niles, Ill.
Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

The World Health Organization issued a new warning Monday about the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, saying it could be dangerous for both fully vaccinated and those who might have been infected before.

  • “There is now consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, per Reuters.
  • “And it is more likely people vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 could be infected or re-infected,” Tedros said.

This is why WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said it would be “unwise” to conclude that the omicron variant only leads to mild symptoms.

  • The omicron variant is evading immune responses, she said.
  • Booster shots should be targeted toward those with weak immune systems, Swaminathan added.

One new study recently suggested the omicron variant of COVID-19 is “markedly resistant” to the current COVID-19 vaccines, antibody treatments and COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • “We found (omicron) to be markedly resistant to neutralization by serum not only from convalescent patients, but also from individuals vaccinated with one of the four widely used COVID-19 vaccines. Even serum from persons vaccinated and boosted with mRNA-based vaccines exhibited substantially diminished neutralizing activity against B.1.1.529,” the study said.

Still, experts — like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House medical adviser on the coronavirus — recommend people get their booster shots to stay guarded against omicron, according to CNBC.

  • “Our booster vaccine regimens work against omicron,” Fauci said.