The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world should not panic over the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, but rather prepare.
Soumya Swaminathan, a top WHO scientist, said at a conference on Friday that the situation now is very different from a year ago.
According to reports, Omicron has been discovered in over 40 countries.
It’s unknown whether the highly mutated variant is more contagious or better at evading vaccines.
Early data reported by scientists in South Africa – in which the variant was discovered – suggests that Omicron may be immune to Covid-19, though experts warn that the analysis is not conclusive.
Dr. Swaminathan told the Reuters NEXT conference that the variant was “highly transmissible,” citing data from South Africa, and that it could become the dominant strain globally – though this is difficult to predict. Delta now accounts for 99 percent of all cases worldwide, she adds.
“Are we overly concerned? We must be prepared and cautious, rather than panicked, because our situation has changed from a year ago “she explained
Meanwhile, WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan stated that the world now has “highly effective vaccines” against Covid-19 and that the focus should be on expanding their distribution. He claimed that there was no evidence to support tailoring these jabs to the new Omicron variant.