Health

Omicron may be less severe, but not ‘mild’: WHO chief

Speaking at
a media briefing, director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also repeated his
call for greater equity globally in the distribution of and access to vaccines.

Based on the
current rate of vaccine rollout, 109 countries will miss the WHO’s target for
70 percent of the world’s population to be fully vaccinated by July, Tedros
added. That aim is seen as helping end the acute phase of the pandemic.

Another
variant – labelled as IHU and first registered in September 2021 – is among
those being monitored by the WHO but is not circulating widely, said the WHO’s
technical lead on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove.

There are
two other categories of greater significance 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 nations had
not even reached 10 percent vaccination cover. Among severe patients worldwide,
80 percent were unvaccinated, he added.

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