Omicron variant has been detected in 89 countries, according to WHO
Omicron variant tests
VIENNA – The omicron variant of the coronavirus has been detected in 89 countries, and cases of COVID-19 linked to this mutation are doubling between 1.5 and three days in places with community transmission and not just from infections acquired abroad, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Saturday.
The “substantial growth advantage” of Omicron over the delta variant means it is likely to soon overtake delta as the dominant form of the virus in countries where the new variant is spreading locally, the UN health agency added.
WHO noted that the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly even in countries with high vaccination rates or where a significant proportion of the population has recovered from COVID-19.
It is not yet clear whether the rapid growth of Omicron cases is due to the variant evading existing immunity, being inherently more transmissible than previous variants, or a combination of both, WHO said.
Other important questions about the Omicron variant remain unanswered, including the efficacy of each of the existing COVID-19 vaccines.
The health agency said there is also no conclusive data yet on other details of Omicron. WHO first labeled Omicron as a variant of concern on Nov. 26.