The new COVID-19 variant first detected in South Africa was given the identify Omicron by the World Health Organization on Friday.
An advisory panel categorized Omicron as a extremely transmissible virus of concern and gave it its identify below its Greek-letter system.
It marks the primary time in months that WHO has categorized a COVID-19 variant with such a reputation – and is barely the fifth variant to be given the designation amid the pandemic.
It is similar class that features the Delta variant, which rapidly grew to become the world’s most prevalent pressure.
It might take weeks for scientists to totally perceive the variant’s mutations, however the WHO panel mentioned early proof suggests an elevated danger of reinfection.
Health authorities are dashing to find out if Omicron is extra transmissible or infectious than different variants — and if the vaccines are efficient towards it.
The advisory panel convened on Friday after South African scientists alerted them to the new variant earlier this week.
Scientists first detected the Omicron variant on Tuesday in samples dated from Nov. 14-16.
The discovery despatched a chill by way of a lot of the world as international locations rushed to ban flights from southern Africa and markets fell sharply.
Britain has already put six African international locations, together with South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe, on its purple checklist – which implies arriving vacationers must quarantine for 10 days in a authorities facility.
The EU mentioned Friday it might transfer to ban flights from southern African international locations.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, nevertheless, mentioned the US wanted extra knowledge on the variant earlier than deciding on a journey ban.
Fauci informed CNN that US scientists could be talking with South African counterparts in a while Friday.