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Will everyone get infected with Omicron? Here's what WHO has to say

On a query regarding if everyone will eventually get Omicron, WHO's technical lead said that Omicron is less severe than Delta but it can still lead to the full spectrum of the disease.
File photo of Maria Van Kerkhove, Head of Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis at the World Health Organization (WHO).(REUTERS)
Published on Jan 24, 2022 09:49 AM IST
By | Written by Sharmita Kar | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi

With Omicron overtaking pre-existing coronavirus variants like Alpha, Beta and the deadly Delta across the world at a rapid pace, the World Health Organization's technical lead has urged to remain cautious as the variant is ‘efficiently transmitted between people’.

Replying to query at a programme, WHO technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said that Omicron is less severe than Delta but it can still lead to the full spectrum of disease as seen in the previous strains. 

"People who are infected with Omicron have the full spectrum of disease, everything from asymptomatic infection all the way through severe disease and death," she replied to a question on why people still ended up in the hospital or died.


"People with underlying conditions, people with advanced age, people who are unvaccinated can have a severe form of Covid-19 following infection from Omicron," Kerkhove said.

On a query regarding if everyone will eventually get Omicron, the WHO tech lead said, "Omicron is overtaking Delta in terms of circulation, and it is very efficiently transmitted between people."

Also Read | ‘Omicron will find everybody’: Fauci as US on 'threshold' of living with Covid

Kerkhove noted that although cases were high around the world, it still did not mean that everybody will get Omicron.

The UN health agency had previously said that the preliminary evidence indicates that the available vaccines against Covid-19 may be less effective against Omicron transmission, which also carries a higher risk of reinfection.

"As a result of this, the overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high," it had said earlier this month.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had also reiterated that the pandemic was far from over. 

"This pandemic is nowhere near over," he had told reporters from the agency's headquarters in Geneva in response to people dismissing Omicron as a mild infection.

Currently, the United States is at the top of the chart for coronavirus cases, followed by India at the second spot.

However, US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci has expressed optimism that the Omicron surge will soon peak, though the decline won’t be uniform throughout the US.


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