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WHO: More time needed to understand omicron


A fumigator disinfects a wall in Harare, Zimbabwe, to combat the omicron COVID-19 variant on Monday. Associated Press/Photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

WHO: More time needed to understand omicron

South Africa’s daily number of new COVID-19 cases skyrocketed from a seven-day average of 200 to more than 3,000 by Saturday. Doctors suspect the bulk of cases are from the new variant, omicron, which has a high number of mutations in its spike protein. Most of the new cases are mild and affect patients in their 20s and 30s. The majority of hospitalizations are among unvaccinated patients, doctors said. The World Health Organization said it will take anywhere from several days to weeks to get information on how transmissible omicron is, what type of infection it causes, and whether current vaccines are effective against it.

Why are there travel bans? In a news conference on Monday, President Joe Biden said he restricted travel from several African countries as soon as hearing about omicron to give Americans more time to get a booster shot or get vaccinated. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, said the country is unlikely to need further lockdowns, but cases in the U.S. are inevitable. Several European countries have also banned travelers from South Africa and several of its neighbors. Malawi’s president called the recent rash of travel bans “Afrophobia.” Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are testing their current vaccines against omicron. Both companies announced they would develop boosters to target the variant if necessary.

Dig deeper: Read Onize Ohikere’s report in The Sift about COVID-19 deaths in Europe.


Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Washington, D.C.

@CarolinaLumetta

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