Health Care

WHO expecting more hospitalizations with omicron now detected in 57 countries

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday that a total of 57 nations have reported COVID-19 cases with the omicron variant, raising concerns that the number of patients who need to be hospitalized will rise because of it.

In its weekly epidemiological report, the WHO detailed that more data will be needed to determine how severe COIVD-19 cases become when they are caused by the variant. It also outlined that more data is needed to determine if the variant is more resistant to the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Reuters.

“Even if the severity is equal or potentially even lower than for Delta variant, it is expected that hospitalizations will increase if more people become infected and that there will be a time lag between an increase in the incidence of cases and an increase in the incidence of deaths,” WHO reportedly said.

Last month, WHO held an emergency meeting where it determined that the omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, was a variant of concern. Within a week, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in South Africa doubled and increases in the number of COVID-19 cases have been reported in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Lesotho, it said.

The organization acknowledged that increased testing and low vaccination rates may have played a role in more reported cases. It also added that preliminary analysis has determined that there could be a higher risk of reinfection with the new variant.

“Preliminary analysis suggests that the mutations present in the Omicron variant may reduce the neutralizing activity of antibodies resulting in reduced protection from natural immunity,” WHO said, according to Reuters.

“There is a need for more data to assess whether the mutations present on the Omicron variant may result in reduced protection from vaccine-derived immunity and data on vaccine effectiveness, including the use of additional vaccination doses,” it added.

Data released from South Africa on Tuesday found that the omicron variant is partially resistant to antibody immunity from two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

Tags covid hospitalizations Omicron variant WHO World Health Organization

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