search

Soaring Omicron could lead to more dangerous variants, WHO warns

Soaring Omicron cases around the globe could increase the risk of a newer, more dangerous variant emerging, the World Health Organization in Europe warns.

While the variant is spreading like wildfire around the world, it appears to be far less severe than initially feared and has raised hopes that the pandemic could be overcome and life return to normal.

But WHO senior emergencies officer Catherine Smallwood sounds an ominous note of caution, telling AFP that the soaring infection rates could have the opposite effect.

“The more Omicron spreads, the more it transmits and the more it replicates, the more likely it is to throw out a new variant. Now, Omicron is lethal, it can cause death… maybe a little bit less than Delta, but who’s to say what the next variant might throw out,” Smallwood says.

People line up in a queue at the entrance of a COVID-19 rapid antigen testing center in Jerusalem, on December 30, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Europe has registered more than 100 million COVID cases since the start of the pandemic, and more than five million new cases in the last week of 2021, “almost dwarfing what we have seen in the past,” Smallwood says.

“We’re in a very dangerous phase, we’re seeing infection rates rise very significantly in Western Europe, and the full impact of that is not yet clear.”

comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed