• Otávio Santiago

What We Know So Far About Omicron, The Latest COVID 'Variant of Concern'

A coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa has now spread to several other countries, including Israel and Belgium, prompting a spate of travel restrictions across Europe, Asia, and North America.

The new variant, called Omicron, carries a concerning number of mutations that could make it more transmissible or more likely to cause severe disease than the Delta variant, public-health experts say.

The World Health Organization labeled Omicron a "variant of concern" on Friday – a designation given to variants like Delta that require scrutiny from public-health officials.

Preliminary evidence suggests that Omicron may increase the risk of reinfection relative to other variants of concern, WHO said.

But scientists have barely begun to examine Omicron's threat: Fewer than 100 of the variant's genome sequences have been reported globally, compared with Delta's more than 2.8 million sequences.

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