Mask up, wash hands, do it, do it regularly: WHO chief on rise of Omicron cases
New Delhi, Dec 15: The World Health Organisation has warned that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading at a rate not seen with any previous variant.
WHO said that even if Omicron is less severe the sheet number of cases could overwhelm the unprepared health systems.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant. I need to be very clear: vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis. It's not vaccines instead of masks, distancing, ventilation or hand hygiene. Do it all. Do it consistently. Do it well, he said.
"We're concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild. Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems, he also said.
There is a small decline in the effectiveness of the vaccines against the severe disease and death and a decline preventing mild disease or infection.
"We are against inequity. It's a question of prioritisation. Giving boosters to groups at low risk of severe disease or death simply endangers the lives of those at high risk still waiting for primary doses. On the other hand, giving additional doses to people at high risk can save more lives than giving primary doses to those at low risk," he also added.
Omicron will outpace the Delta Variant where community transmission occurs. There is still limited data.
While preliminary findings from South Africa suggest that it may be less severe than Delta and all cases reported in the EU/EEA to date have been mild or asymptomatic, it remains unclear to what extent Omicron may be inherently less virulent, Tedros said.