Omicron Variant Currently known as B.1.1.529

WHO CLASSIFIES THE NEW B.1.1.529 VARIANT AS "OMICRON VARIANT". Currently known as B.1.1.529, the newly identified variant has now been detected further afield in Botswana, Hong Kong and Belgium.
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Currently known as B.1.1.529, the newly identified variant has now been detected further afield in Botswana, Hong Kong (https://www.cnn.com/specials/asia/hong-kong) and Belgium.

The chief medical adviser to the UK Health and Security Agency has warned that a newly identified Covid-19 variant in southern Africa (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/25/scientists-call-for-travel-code-red-over-covid-variant-found-in-southern-africa) is the "most worrying we've seen", with transmission levels not recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.

Dr Susan Hopkins said the R value, or effective reproduction number, of the B.1.1.529 variant (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/25/what-do-we-know-about-the-new-worst-ever-covid-variant) in Gauteng in South Africa, where it was first found, was now 2. For an R of anything above 1, an epidemic will grow exponentially.

"This is clearly a variant that we must be very serious about," Ravindra Gupta, professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, told the Associated Press (https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-science-h...).

At the moment, the number of documented cases of B.1.1.529 is small—around 100—but health officials fear it may be fueling a dramatic surge in new cases in South Africa. The country—where less than half of all adults are vaccinated—went from about 200 new cases a day to 10 times that on Thursday.

The WHO may decide to upgrade it to a variant of concern (VOC) – on par with established variants like Delta, meaning it has "global public health significance" – and issue guidance to member countries.

It may also classify it a less serious variant of interest (VOI), which indicates for example that it may affect transmissibility or disease severity.

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