The World Health Organization is working with researchers around the globe to better understand the new coronavirus variant after health experts in South Africa, where omicron was first detected, said it appeared to cause only mild symptoms.

There’s no information to suggest that symptoms associated with omicron differ from those caused by other variants, the Geneva-based WHO cautioned Sunday.  

The  WHO said, Some of the earliest reported infections occurred among college students who are more likely to experience less severe illness from Covid-19, and understanding the level of severity of the new strain “will take days to several weeks”.

Raina MacIntyre, professor of global biosecurity at the University of New South Wales in Sydney said , “We don’t have enough data to determine vaccine effectiveness against omicron or disease severity, so any claims about either at this stage are not evidence-based”.

Omicron was first detected earlier this month. It’s characterized by some 30 or more genetic changes, half of which are in the receptor binding domain the part of the spike protein used to bind to human ACE-2, which is the enzyme the coronavirus targets to enter cells and cause an infection.

According  to the country’s Department of Health. In the U.S., President Joe Biden will also give an update on Monday, the White House said, The U.K. government will convene an urgent meeting of Group of Seven health ministers Monday to discuss the latest developments.

The average number of daily cases in South Africa jumped to about 1,600 last week from about 500 the previous week and 275 infections in the week before that, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday. The proportion of Covid tests coming back positive jumped to 9% from about 2% in less than a week. Only 36% of adults in South Africa are fully vaccinated. 

South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said Friday No unusual symptoms have been reported following infection with omicron and, as with other variants, some individuals are asymptomatic.

 The WHO said there was preliminary data showing a higher number of hospitalizations, “but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with omicron.”

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