Omicron variant highly transmissible, could become dominant, says WHO's top scientist

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 04, 2021, 08:57 AM(IST)

Soumya Swaminathan says there is no need to panic Photograph:( Twitter )

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Several scientists in the EU and Australia have predicted that Omicron may lead to more infections than Delta as it may spread more rapidly

While the world struggles to battle with the delta variant, another variant of Covid has already emerged. 
The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, has said that the Omicron variant could become dominant because it is highly transmissible. She further added that a different vaccine may not be needed.

"It is possible that it could become (the) dominant variant," Swaminathan said. She further added that it is too early to predict if the Omicron variant is milder than other variants of the deadly coronavirus.  "How worried should we be? We need to be prepared and cautious, not panic, because we're in a different situation to a year ago," Swaminathan said. 

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Several scientists in the EU and Australia have predicted that Omicron may lead to more infections than Delta as it may spread more rapidly. 

Earlier, Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College had deemed the combination of mutations found in the new Covid variant as "horrific".

Also read | As world continues to battle the Delta variant, a new variant 'worse than delta' emerges

He further said that the variant could be 'worse than nearly anything else about', including the highly transmissible Delta strain. 

Taking to his Twitter, he wrote, "Worth emphasising this is at super low numbers right now in a region of Africa that is fairly well sampled, however it very very much should be monitored due to that horrific spike profile."

Also read | As fears of new Covid variant looms, Europe surpasses 75 million Covid cases

However, Swaminathan in her interview with Reuters said that as of now, there is conclusive evidence about Omicron's impact on the effectiveness of antibodies. "It does seem to be able to overcome some of the natural immunity from previous infection.

The fact that they're not getting sick ... that means the vaccines are still providing protection and we would hope that they would continue to provide protection," she said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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