WHO commends South Africa, Botswana for speed and accuracy of sharing information on Omicron
Geneva: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has lauded South Africa and Botswana for identifying the new variant of coronavirus and "the speed and transparency" with which they alerted and shared information with it.
"WHO commends South Africa and Botswana for their capacities in surveillance and sequencing and for the speed and transparency with which they notified and shared information with the WHO Secretariat on the Omicron variant in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR)," the global health agency said.
These actions have allowed other countries to rapidly adjust their response measures in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"WHO calls on all countries to follow the IHR (2005) and to show global solidarity in rapid and transparent information sharing and in a joint response to Omicron (as with all other variants), leveraging collective efforts to advance scientific understanding and sharing the benefits of applying newly acquired scientific knowledge and tools," the UN health body added.
The Omicron variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning, WHO said, underscoring that the preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant as compared to other VOCs.
Current SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostics continue to be effective in detecting this variant, it said.
It is expected that the Omicron variant will be detected in an increasing number of countries as national authorities step up their surveillance and sequencing activities.
"WHO is closely monitoring the spread of the Omicron variant, and studies are ongoing to understand more about these mutations and their impact on transmissibility, virulence, diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines," it said.
The TAG-VE will continue to evaluate the Omicron variant, and WHO will communicate new findings with IHR States Parties and the public as needed.