The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the Omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a “very high” risk globally, and could lead to severe consequences in some regions.
“If another major surge of Covid-19 takes place driven by Omicron, consequences may be severe,” it said in a technical note, adding however that “to date, no deaths linked to Omicron variant have been reported”.
It confirmed previous reports that the variant had an unprecedented number of spike mutations, but added there were considerable uncertainties about the effect these could have.
The WHO said it expected more data within the coming weeks, and called on member states to make sure they were able to maintain health services even if the number of cases started to rise.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that scientists around the world were working to understand the Omicron variant.
The emergence of the new variant will also be discussed by G7 health ministers on Monday.