WHO: Omicron variant underlines need for global 'pandemic treaty'

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WHO: Omicron variant underlines need for global 'pandemic treaty'
© Provided by dw.com The WHO said the risk of global infection surges with the omicron variant is ‘very high’

As concern grows over the omicron variant, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday the panicked reactions by world leaders the urgent need for a global accord on pandemics.

“The emergence of the highly mutated omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the start of a three-day World Health Assembly meeting.

He said scientists around the world are “urgently” working to determine whether the omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, is more infectious or whether vaccines are effective against it.

The UN health agency chief, however, emphasized that the 194-member World Health Assembly needs to ensure that the groundwork is laid for an accord that can prevent future pandemics.

“We shouldn’t need another wake-up call,” Tedros said.

Why did the WHO label omicron as ‘high risk’?

Earlier on Monday, the WHO released a statement with the latest assessment of the omicron variant — designating it as a bringing a “very high” risk of global infection surges.

While it remains to be seen whether the variant increases the risk of severe disease or death — the multiple mutations in the past have led to a higher risk of recurring infections in patients who have already recovered from COVID.

“Depending on these characteristics, there could be future surges of COVID-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on a number of factors including where surges may take place,” the WHO said in a statement.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

rs/wmr (dpa, AFP)

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