Omicron 'dangerous' virus for unvaccinated people: WHO chief warns
New Delhi, Jan 13: World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday said that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is a "dangerous virus" particularly for those who are unvaccinated.
During a media briefing on COVID-19, he said that more than 15 million new cases of Covid-19 were reported to WHO from around the world in the last week and the huge spike in cases is being driven by the Omicron variant.
The variant is rapidly replacing Delta in almost all countries, he claims.
"However, the number of weekly reported deaths has remained stable since October last year, at an average of 48,000 deaths a week. While the number of patients being hospitalized is increasing in most countries, it is not at the level seen in previous waves. This is possibly due to the reduced severity of Omicron, and widespread immunity from vaccination or previous infection. But let's be clear: while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated," he said.
He continues, "We are making progress. In December, COVAX shipped more than double the number of doses it shipped in November, and in the coming days, we expect COVAX to ship its 1 billionth vaccine dose," he stated. He further stated that some of the supply constraints we faced last year are now starting to ease, but we still have a long way to go to reach our target of vaccinating 70 per cent of the population of every country by the middle of this year.
The WHO director-general said that 90 countries have still not reached the 40 per cent target, and 36 of those countries have vaccinated less than 10 per cent of their populations. "WHO and our partners are actively supporting these countries to overcome the bottlenecks they face, in leadership and coordination, lack of supply visibility, short shelf-life of donated vaccines, limited cold chain capacity, vaccine confidence, health worker shortages, and competing priorities," he stated.