WHO chief: Omicron may be less severe, but not “light”
More infectious Omicron variant of covid-19 appears to produce less severe disease that the globally dominant Delta strain, but should not be categorized as “light,” the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference, Managing Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also reiterated his call for greater global equity in the distribution and access to vaccines.
Based on the current rate of vaccine deployment, 109 countries will miss the WHO target for 70% of the world’s population to be fully immunized by July, Tedros added. This goal is considered to help end the acute phase of the pandemic.
Another variation – IHU labeled and registered for the first time in September 2021 – is among those monitored by the WHO but does not circulate widely, said WHO technical officer on covid-19, Maria van Kerkhove.
There are two other more important categories that the WHO uses to track variants: “variant of concern “, which includes Delta and Omicron, and” variant of interest “.
Speaking at the same briefing from Geneva, WHO adviser Bruce Aylward said 36 countries had not even reached 10% immunization coverage. Among severe patients worldwide, 80% were not vaccinated, he added.
Photo by REUTERS / Willy Kurniawan