Speaking on behalf of the organization, the official said there is no evidence to suggest that the effectiveness of the vaccines has been reduced by the new strain – but said some mutations in the virus indicate an increased risk of faster transmission.
They said more than 40 different mutations have been identified with the Omicron variant.
The WHO official, quoted by Reuters, added that there were still many unknowns about the new strain.
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A senior Botswana health ministry official said on Tuesday that 16 of 19 cases of the Omicron variant detected in the country were asymptomatic.
In his testimony to the government science and technology committee on Wednesday, Professor Neil Ferguson said it could be around “the end of the month” before there is a clearer picture of the concern. ‘Omicron.
He said: “Viruses will evolve to become more transmissible.
“They can do this by becoming more inherently transmissible, more infectious as the Alpha variant has been compared to the original strain of COVID, as the Delta variant was more infectious, in the highly immune population they can gain transmissibility by escaping the ‘immunity.
“It seems, but we have not yet proven it, that the Omicron variant can confirm to be the latter type of evolution. “
He added, “What we’ve seen is that Alpha has been a bit more severe than the previous strain, and Delta again more severe, so the trend we’ve seen is greater severity, not less. of severity – fortunately thwarted by better treatment with monoclonal antibodies, antivirals and all other drugs, which means people have a better chance of surviving severe COVID today than at the start of the pandemic. “
It comes as experts from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), which advises the government, warned the new strain. could trigger a surge in viral infections greater than previous waves in UK with a risk that it could overwhelm the NHS.
WHO has also agreed to launch negotiations on an international treaty to prevent future pandemics.
The specialized agency for The United Nations said he would start talks on the deal that would also look at how to control pandemics in the future.
Vaccine inequity remains one of the most worrying features of the international response to the pandemic, with lower to middle income families having the lowest vaccination rates.
The decision was adopted by consensus at WHO’s special ministerial assembly of its 194 member states, to applause from delegations at the end of a three-day meeting.
Such an agreement aimed at improving measures to prevent and fight pandemics should be ready in May 2024.
It should cover issues ranging from data sharing and genome sequencing of emerging viruses to potential research-derived vaccines and drugs.
“The text before us is the product of in-depth discussion, frank exchange and compromise,” said Australian Ambassador Sally Mansfield, who co-chaired the working group.
“Let’s move forward together in solidarity to do the hard work that awaits us. “
The European Union (EU) had been pushing for a legally binding international treaty, with around 70 countries, but Brazil and India were among those reluctant to commit to a deal, diplomats said.
The WHO said China still has not shared some of its early data that could help identify the origin of COVID.
The decision to launch talks on the international accord has been hailed by the United States, whose United Nations mission in Geneva said: “This momentous step represents our collective responsibility to work together to advance health security and render a stronger and more responsive global health system. . “
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Along with negotiations on a pandemic treaty, the United States has pledged to work with other members on
“Targeted amendments” to the International Health Regulations 2005, he said.
The measures would aim to strengthen implementation and compliance on issues such as “early warnings,
information sharing and rapid risk assessment ”.
The action follows the identification of the new Omicron COVID-19[feminine[feminine variant in South Africa, which has now been detected in several countries around the world.
As a result, more than 50 countries have reportedly implemented travel measures to stop its spread, the WHO said.
In an attempt to avoid hasty restrictions on global borders, the organization called on countries to apply “a
evidence-based and risk-based approach ”for travel measures.
General travel bans will not prevent the spread, and they “place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” the WHO added.
Since COVID-19 first appeared in China in December 2019, more than 262.22 million people were reported infected with the virus and 5.46 million people died.