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It’s too early to see how the omicron variant affects the elderly

Early data suggests the omicron variant provides mild symptoms among the young

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An elderly patient receives a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

An elderly patient receives a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, at a clinic at Orange Farm, near Johannesburg. The World Health Organization has cautioned against overreacting to omicron variant data so far as the world still waits to see how the variant impacts the elderly.

Dennis Farrell, Associated Press

The World Health Organization on Wednesday cautioned against overreacting to omicron variant data so far as the world still waits to see how the COVID-19 variant impacts the elderly.

For the most part, all signs point toward the omicron variant producing mild symptoms among fully vaccinated adults and children.

Dr. Abdi Mahamud, the WHO’s incident manager for COVID-19, said it’s still unclear how the omicron variant will impact the elderly populations — both vaccinated and unvaccinated, according to CNBC. It could be similar to vaccinated adults by producing mild symptoms, but it’s unclear so far.

  • “We all want this disease to be milder, but the population it affected so far is the younger. How it behaves in the elderly population, the vulnerable — we don’t know yet,” Mahamud said
  • “It’s too early to determine,” Mahamud said. “We’re optimistic, but I think we shouldn’t over-interpret the data coming from South Africa.”

So for now, hold out on the data to see how the omicron variant impacts the elderly. Right now, the state of play suggests the variant offers symptoms similar to the common cold. Experts still recommend everyone receive the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots, as well as a COVID-19 test if symptoms develop.