WHO, US scientists say Omicron no worse than other variants
GENEVA The Omicron variant appears to be no worse than other coronavirus strains, top scientists from the World Health Organisation and the United States said, while cautioning that more research is needed to judge its severity.
The hopeful assessments came as global concern grew over the heavily mutated variant, which has forced dozens of nations to re-impose border restrictions and raised the possibility of a return to economically punishing lockdowns.
While it is likely more transmissible than previous variants, "the preliminary data don't indicate that this is more severe", the WHO's second-in-command said.
"In fact, if anything, the direction is towards less severity," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said on Tuesday, insisting though that more research was needed.
Top US scientist Anthony Fauci echoed the WHO's view, saying Omicron does not appear worse than prior strains based on early indications - and is possibly milder.
The new variant is "clearly highly transmissible", very likely more so than Delta, the current dominant global strain, Dr Fauci said.
Omicron has so far been found in 57 countries around the world, the WHO said. No deaths have yet been associated with the variant. - AFP