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Omicron not more severe than Delta variant: top US scientist

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Nagpur: Top US scientist Anthony Fauci on Tuesday said the early indications suggested that the newly-updated Omicron variant was not worse than the prior variants and is possibly milder. He added that it would take weeks to judge its severity.

Fauci, while answering a question, claimed that the Omicron variant is not more severe than the delta variant. He said that it was important not to over-interpret this data because the populations being followed skewed young and were less likely to become hospitalized. “Severe diseases can also take weeks to develop,” he added.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) second-in-command told AFP that it is likely that the variant is more transmissible than the other variants but omicron is also ‘highly unlikely’ to completely evade vaccine protections. WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan in an interview said, “The preliminary data doesn’t indicate that this is more severe. In fact, if anything, the direction is towards less severity.”

Ryan further claimed that there is no sign that the new variant could fully ‘sidestep’ protections provided by existing Covid-19 vaccines. Fauci said that it remains unclear as to how the variant originated but there are two theories behind it. “One—either the variant evolved inside the body of an immunocompromised patient or the virus could have crossed from humans to animals.”

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The Omicron variant has now been detected in almost 38 countries till now and was first detected in South Africa. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Tuesday has warned of another wave of infections in the near future. The medical body also urged the Centre to announce ‘additional’ or booster doses for the healthcare personnel.

The newly-discovered Omicron variant has been detected in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and Rajasthan. A total of 23 cases have been reported till date. The IMA claimed that with the scientific evidence available and the experience noted in countries of origin, it is quite evident that the Omicron variant has high penetrability and will affect more people.

Top IIT scientist on Monday has also predicted that the Omicron variant can cause the third wave of Covid-19 in India. However, he added that it will be less severe than the delta variant which killed thousands in the country.

    DRISHTI SHARMA

    DRISHTI SHARMA

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