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As Countries Race to Contain Omicron, How Worried Should You Be?

Omicron is the most mutated version of the coronavirus and is reportedly more transmissible than the Delta variant.

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A new variant of COVID-19, named Omicron, has set-off alarm bells across the world, with multiple countries imposing travel restrictions over the weekend.

The variant, B.1.1529, was first detected in Botswana and then later identified in South Africa on 24 November. It is said to be the most mutated version of the virus and is reportedly more transmissible than the deadly Delta variant, which caused havoc across the world.

Preliminary analysis and genome sequencing by experts in South Africa show that Omicron’s heightened mutations may mean that it’s more transmissible and even have immune escaping properties. Based on this evidence, the World Health Organisation has labelled Omicron as a “variant of concern.”

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A growing number of countries since the virus was first identified in South Africa, have reported confirmed cases of the new variant including the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada, Italy, Germany and Australia.

With little knowledge about the variant, how concerning is Omicron and what do we know about it so far?

For this, we spoke with renowned virologist Dr Shahid Jameel and Dr K Srinath Reddy, the President of the Public Health Foundation of India.

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