(MENAFN- Jordan News Agency)
Amman, Dec. 1 (Petra) -- Adviser of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Medical Affairs, Brig. Gen. Adel Wahadneh said on Wednesday the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the Omicron Covid variant as a disturbing variant, with many mutations that may have an effect on how it behaves, how easily it spreads or the severity of the disease it causes.
Wahadneh added that the transmissibility of the virus hasn't been clear yet (e.g. spreads more easily from one person to the other) compared the other variants, including Delta, noting that the number of people who have tested positive for the virus has increased in South Africa, but epidemiological studies are underway to understand whether this is due to the omicron variant or other factors.
Wahadneh explained that the severity of the disease hasn't been clear yet in terms of whether the infection with it causes a more serious disease compared to the infection with other variables, including delta.
Preliminary data indicate that there are increasing rates of hospitalizations in South Africa, but this may be due to an increase in the overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than as a result of a specific omicron infection, he added.
Wahadneh pointed out that there is currently no information to suggest that the associated symptoms differ from those of the other variants, as were the primary infections reported among college students - younger individuals who tend to have milder disease - but understanding the severity level of the omicron variant will take several weeks.
All variants of COVID-19, including the worldwide dominant delta variant, can cause severe illness or death, particularly for the most vulnerable, Wahadneh further explained.
'The WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this alternative on our current countermeasures, including vaccines, and current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death, and widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection,' Wahadneh noted.
He stressed that treatments that have been approved are effective in managing patients with severe COVID-19, and other treatments will be evaluated to see if they are still effective given the changes in parts of the virus within the omicron variant, as the WHO encourages countries to contribute to collecting and sharing patient data in hospitals through the WHO Clinical Data Platform in order to quickly describe clinical characteristics and patient outcomes.
Wahadna added that the recommended measures are based on enhancing monitoring and sequencing of cases in countries, and countries must continue to implement effective public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in general.
In addition, it is critically important to urgently address inequalities in access to COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that vulnerable groups everywhere, including health workers and the elderly, receive their first and second doses, as well as equitable access to treatment and diagnosis, Wahadna concluded.
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