In a recent report shared by the World Health Organization, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading fast in countries with documented community transmission, with the number of cases doubling in 1.5 to 3 days.
The highly mutated variant, now present in 89 countries, is spreading rapidly in areas with high levels of population immunity, the WHO said, but it is unclear if this is due to the virus’s ability to evade immunity, its inherent increased transmissibility or a combination of both.
The agency designated Omicron a variant of concern on November 26, soon after it was first detected by scientists in South Africa, and much is still not known about it. Scientists remain uncertain how dangerous it is, but early data suggests it can be more resistant to vaccines and more transmissible than the Delta variant.
“There are still limited data on the clinical severity of Omicron,” the WHO said in its update. “More data are needed to understand the severity profile and how severity is impacted by vaccination and pre-existing immunity.”
It added, “There are still limited available data, and no peer-reviewed evidence, on vaccine efficacy or effectiveness to date for Omicron.”
Meanwhile, Britain has reported a skyrocketing record of COVID-19 cases for the third consecutive day, with a rise to 93,045 new infections as of Saturday, December 18, 2021.