In the midst of widespread concern about the Omicron coronavirus variant, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr Anthony Fauci stated that new evidence suggests that Omicron has increased infectivity rather than a “severe profile.”
“If one looks at the transmissibility, we have molecular evidence to suggest that the mutations seen in Omicron and other variants are associated with increased infectivity,” Dr Fauci was quoted as saying during a virtual White House briefing on Tuesday by CNN.
“Real-world evidence is rapidly accumulating – literally on a daily basis – to allow us to determine the increase in cases, potential increase in reproductive number, and rapid replacement of Delta by Omicron in certain situations,” he said.
However, Dr. Fauci stated that it is still too early to determine the exact severity of disease caused by the Omicron variant, according to CNN.
He stated, referring to South African data, “We do not appear to be seeing a very severe profile of the disease based on the cases that have been seen. According to a South African study, people who have previously been infected with other coronavirus variants, such as Beta and Delta, appear to be more susceptible to reinfection with Omicron.”
“Given the severity, and the fact that hospitalisation and death are always lagging indicators, I expect it to be at least another couple of weeks before we have a good handle, and then a really good handle a few weeks later. So, I’d say we shouldn’t draw any firm conclusions just yet, at least not before the next few weeks “During the briefing, Fauci told CNN.
On November 25, the World Health Organization (WHO) received the first report of the new COVID-19 variant from South Africa. According to the WHO, the first confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was found in a specimen collected on November 9 of this year.
On November 26, the WHO designated the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, discovered in South Africa, as ‘Omicron.’ Omicron has been designated as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization.