Omicron should be designated Variant of Concern, says TAG-VE

Omicron should be designated Variant of Concern,’’ says TAG-VE
Omicron should be designated Variant of Concern,’’ says TAG-VE

Omicron should be designated Variant of Concern, says TAG-VE

The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) has advised the World Health Organisation to designate the Omicron Variant a variant of concern (VOC)

A variant of Concern is when a variant for which there is evidence of an increase n transmissibility, more severe disease, a significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatment or vaccines or diagnostic detection failures.

The Omicron variant is said to have many mutations, some of which are concerning.

Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs.

TAG-VE is currently studying and evaluating the variant and the World Health Organisation will communicate the findings to the public.

However, based on current evidence, the TAG-VE has urged WHO to declare the Omicron Variant a variant of concern.

‘’Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a VOC, and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron,’’ said the statement from WHO.

Due to this classification, countries have asked to ‘’enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.

‘’To submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID. Report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism,’’ the statement added.

WHO also added that countries that have the capacity can do field investigations and laboratory assessments on the potential effect of the new variant.

‘’Where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, the effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.

‘’Individuals are reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving the ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated,’’ WHO said.

TAG-VE is an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if specific mutations and combinations of mutations alter the behaviour of the virus. The TAG-VE was convened on 26 November 2021 to assess the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529.

Omicron should be designated Variant of Concern, says TAG-VE

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