Omicron variant poses “high to very high” risk for Europe – European Health Agency

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – The new variant of COVID-19, dubbed Omicron and originally detected in South Africa, poses a “high to very high” risk to Europe, the EU’s health agency warned on Friday. EU.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) noted in a threat assessment report that there was still “considerable uncertainty related to transmissibility, vaccine efficacy, risk of re-infection and to other properties of the Omicron variant “.

However, the overall risk that Omicron posed to the European Union and the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) was “high to very high”.

Given the possibility that current vaccines will not protect against the variant and the fact that it may be more transmissible, “we rate the likelihood of further introduction and community spread in the EU / EEA as high. “said the Stockholm-based agency.

“In a situation where the Delta variant reappears in the EU / EEA, the impact of the introduction and possible further spread of Omicron could be very high,” he added.

Outside South Africa, Omicron has been detected in Israel in a person coming from Malawi as well as in Botswana, Hong Kong and Belgium, a member of the EU.

The agency urged countries to carry out genomic sequencing and contact tracing of confirmed cases, and called on people not to travel to affected areas.

The World Health Organization said on Friday that the newly discovered strain was a variant of concern.

The classification places Omicron in the most troubling category of COVID-19 variants, with Delta dominating globally, along with its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.

Nations rushed to ban flights to slow the spread of Omicron on Friday, as stock markets and oil prices plunged on fears surrounding the variant, potentially dealing a heavy blow to the global economic recovery.

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