WHO names new South African coronavirus strain Omicron

09:08, 27 November 2021
WHO names new South African coronavirus strain Omicron

The World Health Organization (WHO) has named a new variant of coronavirus, which was first discovered in November in South Africa, after the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet - "Omicron".

"This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning," the UN public health body said in a statement.

The WHO reported that the current PCR tests can detect the new strain of coronavirus.

The Western media remind us that in order to avoid the names of strains by geography, the WHO has previously introduced their designations by the letters of the Greek alphabet.

The variant B.1.1.529 was found in South Africa, Botswana, Israel while a tourist who arrived in Hong Kong from South Africa also had it. Belgium has become the first EU country to record a case of the Omicron. The announcement was made by Belgium’s Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke during a press conference on Friday.

The experts around the world are currently gathering information about the new strain. In particular, their task is to determine how much the currently used vaccines against COVID-19 protect against Omicron. The WHO said it would take a couple of weeks to evaluate the impact of the new variant, as scientists attempt to determine how transmissible it is.

"It is bad news but it's not doomsday," a biologist from the University of Oxford Professor James Naismith said.