Omicron reduces vaccine efficiency, could soon overtake Delta, says WHO


The Omicron variant of coronavirus is more transmissible than the Delta variant and reduces vaccine efficiency, said the World Health Organization (WHO) on Sunday, 12 December

However, after analyzing the early data available on Omicron, WHO pointed out that the new COVID-19 strain caused less severe symptoms than Delta.

Citing early evidence, it said that the Omicron variant causes “a reduction in vaccine efficacy against infection and transmission.”

“Given the currently available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” it said, as per reports.

As of 9 December, the WHO said that the Omicron variant of coronavirus had spread to 63 countries. Faster transmission of Omicron was seen in South Africa, where the prevalence of Delta variant is low and in Britain, where Delta is a dominant strain, the WHO noted.

However, due to lack of data, the organization said, it could not ascertain if Omicron’s transmission rate was because “it was less prone to immune responses, higher transmissibility or a combination of both.”

Until now, the infections due to Omicron have caused “mild illness or asymptomatic cases,” however the WHO said the available data was not enough to corroborate its clinical severity.

After its emergence in South Africa last month, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 triggered a global alarm, prompting countries to impose travel bans on a few African countries. Several nations have also reintroduced domestic restrictions to prevent the virus spread.