What to Know About Omicron, a New Covid Variant of Concern

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The World Health Organization on Friday called a newly identified strain of Covid-19 found in southern Africa “type of anxietyThe discovery of the variant hit financial markets and prompted new travel restrictions from several countries, including the US

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b.1.1529, known as the Omicron variant, contains an unusually large number of mutations, suggesting potentially unknown new ways—and the speed—with which it can infect people and can be passed together. It was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November and has been found in Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium. The WHO said the first known case of omicron was on 9 November and that infections have increased rapidly since then.

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“The new COVID-19 virus variant—Omicron—has a large number of mutations, some of which are related,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. said on twitter after the designation.

The variant has emerged so rapidly that scientists do not yet know how rapidly it spreads, how it reacts to vaccines, nor the antibodies in people who have recovered from earlier COVID-19 infections. . who They say it can take weeks to answer those questions.

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“This is something that has emerged in South Africa and is spreading quite rapidly,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci. during a CNN interview Ahead of the WHO information-sharing meeting on Friday.

The US, several European countries, Hong Kong and Singapore announced on Friday that they Temporarily ban travel to Southern Africa, adding to fears of a renewed pandemic in markets around the world.

Brazil’s health regulator has sought similar restrictions, advice that has been rebuked by the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has doubts about the seriousness of the pandemic, Reuters reported.

According to scientific journal nature, the little-understood strain is the result of a large number of mutations already present in other forms. The new version seems to have spread rapidly in South Africa and then abroad.

News of the mysterious new edition took the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its worst trading day in more than a year as potential lockdowns, travel restrictions and consumer pessimism could hit world economies during the holiday season.

BioNTech (ticker: BNTX) and its partner Pfizer (PFE) said on Friday they would know in two weeks whether their current coronavirus vaccine should be modified to address the new version. If so, companies will be able to do this within six weeks and prepare the dosage within 100 days.

Health officials say their first order of business is to closely monitor the spread of the strain, to see if it overcomes immune responses triggered by vaccines and earlier strains. Scientists also try to understand whether the new strain is as deadly as the previous strain, and exactly what symptoms—or lack thereof—cause.

The new variant may be more contagious than the previous one, as data shows it is already spreading to almost every part of South Africa.

“Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this type,” WHO said in Friday’s statementt, which also included renewed calls for the wearing of masks, physical distancing and vaccination.

WHO COVID-19 technical lead Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said on Friday that scientists have a lot to learn about stress, with preliminary data showing signs of grave danger.

“We don’t know a lot about it, yet what we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations and the concern is that when you have so many mutations it may affect the behavior of the virus.” could,” she said. in the comments Aired on WHO’s YouTube channel. “The more this virus spreads, the more opportunities there are for more mutations to mutate the virus, we will see that each one of you has a role to play in reducing transmission as well as protecting yourself from serious illness and death.” So get vaccinated.”

The 7-day average of daily COVID infections in the US has been rising since mid-October, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker,

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