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Omicron: How worried should we be over the new Covid variant? – BBC Newsnight

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a new coronavirus variant to be “of concern” and named it Omicron. How concerned should we be? Please subscribe HERE http://bit.ly/1rbfUog

The WHO said
the variant had a large number of mutations, and early evidence suggested a possible increased risk of reinfection.

It was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on 24 November, and has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

Several countries banned travel from southern Africa on Thursday.

It is not uncommon for a virus to change, or mutate, over time. A variant becomes a variant of concern when that mutation might affect things like transmissibility, virulence or the effectiveness of vaccines.

In a statement on Friday the WHO said the number of cases of this variant, initially named B.1.1.529, appeared to be increasing in almost all of South Africa’s provinces. 

The WHO has said it will take a few weeks to understand the impact of the new variant, as scientists work to determine how transmissible it is.

Newsnight’s Health Correspondent Deb Cohen reports.

#Newsnight #BBCNews #Coronavirus

Newsnight is the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs TV programme – with analysis, debate, exclusives, and robust interviews.

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