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No, World Economic Forum Didn't Report on Omicron COVID-19 Variant in July

Archives of the article show it was updated recently to include the details about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

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WebQoof
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An article published in the World Economic Forum (WEF) talking about the the different variants of COVID-19 has been shared by several social media users with a claim that the organisation knew about recently discovered Omicron variant back in July.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), on 26 November, named the recently detected B.1.1.529 strain of COVID-19 'Omicron'.

We found that while the article was published by WEF in July, the information in the article was updated on 26 November. Archives of the article from before 26 November show no mention of the Omicron variant in it.

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CLAIM

"WHO just said that "Omicron" was first reported by South Africa on 11/24/21. However, WEF reported this EXACT same "variant" – B.1.1.529, out of South Africa – way back in July. Oops," said a user on Twitter.

Screenshots of the tweet were shared by several people on Faceook.

Archives of the article show it was updated recently to include the details about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

An archive of the post can be found here.

(Source: Twitter/Screenshot)

More such posts were found on Facebook and Twitter, archives of which can be found here, here and here.

We also found that the claim was being shared on WhatsApp on groups linked with the anti-vaccination movement.

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WHAT WE FOUND OUT

A link to the article published by the WEF was shared along with the tweets which are now going viral.

The date in the article had been updated and we found a disclaimer in the article that said, "This article was originally published on 12 July 2021. It was updated on 26 November to include information about the new strain, B.1.1.529."

Archives of the article show it was updated recently to include the details about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

An archive of the post can be found here

(Source: WEF/Screenshot)

Some of the viral claims included screenshots of the article after it was updated with the detail about Omicron while the publishing date still said 12 July 2021.

Archives of the article show it was updated recently to include the details about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

An archive of the  post can be found here.

(Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

In order to check that, we looked for archives of the link on Wayback Machine, an internet archive, and found that the date in the article (that included information about Omicron) was indeed 12 July 2021.

However, even that version of the article, archived on 28 November, carried a disclaimer that said, "This article was last updated on 26 November 2021."

We then noticed more archives of the same article from July and September. Both the archives made no mention of "Omicron" in them.

The B.1.1.529 strain of COVID-19, or 'Omicron' was first reported in South Africa on 24 November 2021. According to the WHO, the variant has a large number of mutations which seem concerning and has hence asked member nations to be more vigilant.

Misinformation linked the WEF has been viral before and has been debunked by The Quint's WebQoof team as well as international fact-checking organisations.

Evidently, the claim that the WEF reported about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in July is false.

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(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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Topics:  WHO   WEF   COVID-19 

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