Omicron spreads faster than other coronavirus variants, infects vaccinated, recovered people: WHO

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

© APA | WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

# 20 December 2021 21:56 (UTC +04:00)

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading faster than the Delta variant and is causing infections in people already vaccinated or who have recovered from the COVID-19 disease, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, APA reports.

"There is now consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing for Geneva-based journalists, held at its new headquarters building.

"And it is more likely people vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 could be infected or re-infected," Tedros said.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that the variant was successfully evading some immune responses, meaning that the booster programmes being rolled out in many countries ought to be targeted towards people with weaker immune systems.

Omicron appears to be better at evading antibodies generated by some COVID-19 vaccines but there are other forms of immunity that may prevent infection and disease, WHO officials said.

"We do not believe that all vaccines will become completely ineffective," Swaminathan said.

WHO expert Abdi Mahamud added: "Although we are seeing a reduction in the neutralisation antibodies, almost all data shows T-cells remain intact, that is what we really require."

While the antibody defences from some courses have been undermined, there been hope that T-cells, the second pillar of an immune response, can prevent severe disease by attacking infected human cells.

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