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Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

WHO Says No Need for Panic Over Omicron Coronavirus Strain as Much Remains Unknown

© AP Photo / Denis FarrellA petrol attendant stands next to a newspaper headline in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.
A petrol attendant stands next to a newspaper headline in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.11.2021
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - There are no reasons for panic regarding the new Omicron coronavirus strain, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Russia, Melita Vujnovic, said on Saturday.
"It seems to me that there should be no panic, as we do not know yet... if this virus bypasses a vaccine, how much it will decrease effectiveness of any vaccine - we do not know this, at the moment," Vujnovic told the Soloviev Live YouTube show.
The official added that "of course, Africa does not have enough vaccine shots, even though the South African Republic produces vaccine."
However, Vujnovic assumed that the Omicron variant might be more contagious than other strains.
A healthcare worker administers the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination to a woman in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa, on 20 August 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.11.2021
South African Medical Association Says Omicron Variant Causes 'Mild Disease'
On Friday, WHO identified the new South African strain as one of concern, as it potentially may be more transmissible and dangerous. The WHO dubbed the variant Omicron, which is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.

"The new #COVID19 virus variant - Omicron - has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. This is why we need to speed up our efforts to deliver on #VaccinEquity ASAP and protect the most vulnerable everywhere," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted on Saturday.

The new Omicron variant is reported to carry a high number of mutations — 32.
Angelique Coetzee, the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, told Sputnik that Omicron results in mild disease, without prominent syndromes.
Following the reports about the new variant, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Israel, Australia and other countries have restricted travel from several southern African nations over the health concerns. South Africa has criticized the decision to ban flights as premature, saying there is not enough information on how dangerous it is.
U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden meet military service members on Thanksgiving Day, in Nantucket island - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.11.2021
Biden Reminded of Attack on Trump for African Travel Ban He Now Emulates
The pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech issued a statement that they are not sure whether Omicron is able to escape their vaccine but promise to develop a new vaccine against the variant in about 100 days.
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