No deaths reported from omicron yet, WHO says as cases in UK double

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The World Health Organization has confirmed that there have been no deaths from the Omicron variant, despite cases being detected in at least 38 countries.

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The UK’s Health Protection Agency said Friday night it comes as 75 more cases of omicron have been identified in England. This brings the total number of cases in England to 104, with 150 cases in the UK overall.

The United States and Australia are among the latest countries to confirm new cases of the Omicron variant. It comes as South Africa’s total infections surpassed three million as the new variant continues to spread.


South African doctor Angelique Coetzee, who first saw Omicron, said the patients seen so far had “extremely mild symptoms” – but the WHO warned it could take weeks to determine how contagious the variant is. This leads to more severe disease and how effective existing vaccines are against it.

“We’re going to get the answers everyone out there needs,” said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan.

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The WHO said on Friday it had still not seen any reports of Omicron-related deaths, but the spread of the new variant warned it could account for more than half of Europe’s Covid cases in the next few months.

Early data reported by scientists in South Africa suggests Omicron may evade some immunity to COVID-19 – but experts caution that the analysis is not definitive. WHO’s top scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said that the world should not panic with the new version but should be ready for it.

Speaking at Reuters Next Conference, she said that Omicron could become the dominant coronavirus strain. “How worried should we be? We need to be prepared and alert, not panic, because we are different from the situation a year ago.”

WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said the world currently has “highly effective vaccines” against COVID-19, and the focus should be on distributing them more widely. He said there is no evidence to convert these jabs to the newer Omicron variant.

Uur Ahin, CEO of BioNTech, which makes the Covid vaccine with Pfizer, said the company should be able to adapt shots relatively quickly when needed, although Moderna CEO Stefan Bunsel said this week that a new Omron- A specific vaccine can take months. Developed and ships globally.

Cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in the East Midlands, East London, North-East, North-West, South-East, South-West and West Midlands of England. There were warnings of a “small amount” of community transmission because not all new cases were linked to travel.

Australia on Friday identified three students in Sydney who had tested positive for the variant, while six more states in the US reported cases of Omicron.

Canada has discovered a total of 15 cases of the new Omicron variant, with Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam announcing that 11 of the Omicron cases involved people who had recently traveled abroad.


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