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Preliminary evidence suggests that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 may increase the likelihood of reinfection, but the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the new variant may cause milder disease than the Delta strain.
WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that there is some evidence that the new COVID-19 variant, first found in South Africa, can cause milder sickness; although, he noted that more data is needed to conclude the fact.
Even if the new strain turns out to be less dangerous than the other variants, Tedros warned agaisnt complacency.
"Any complacency now will cost lives," the chief said. He also urged countries to ramp up their observation of the virus to help understand its behavior.
WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan added that even if the Omicron variant turns out to cause less severe disease, its rapid transmissibility can infect more people, overwhelm hospitals, and cause more deaths.
Current data shows that the Omicron variant is efficiently transmitting, probably more than the previous Delta variant.
“Therefore, we have to redouble our efforts to break those chains of transmission to protect ourselves to protect others,” Ryan said.