People step off a tram in Nottingham, England, a city where a case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus was identified last week.
Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images
The World Health Organization warns of very high risk posed by the omicron variant
The World Health Organization is warning that the new omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a “very high” global risk because of the possibility that it spreads more easily and might resist vaccines and immunity in people who were infected with previous strains.
In atechnical briefissued Sunday, the WHO warned its 194 member states that the new variant’s numerous mutations “may confer immune escape potential and possibly transmissibility advantage,” and as a result “the likelihood of potential further spread of omicron at the global level is high.”
It says that the risk to vulnerable populations — especially in countries with low vaccination rates — could be “substantial.”
However, it cautions that there’s still considerable uncertainty about the virus, including how easily it spreads, how dangerous it is, whether it can evade vaccines and immunity, how it responds to diagnostic tests and therapeutics, and even its specific symptoms.