WHO Names Transmissible New COVID-19 Variant ‘Omicron’

FILE - A child winces as he receives his Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 in Diepsloot Township near Johannesburg, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country's most populous province. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell, File)

(AP) — An advisory panel of the World Health Organization has classified a worrying new COVID-19 variant first detected in South Africa as a highly transmissible virus of concern, naming it “Omicron” under its Greek letter system.

The U.N. health agency also said early evidence on the new variant, until now known as B.1.1.529, has also shown an increased risk of reinfection compared to other highly transmissible variants, suggesting that people who contracted and recovered from COVID-19 could be more subject to catching it again with omicron.


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