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Covid-19: Omicron variant is rapidly replacing Delta in almost all countries, says WHO Chief

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Jan 13, 2022
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Over 15 million new cases of Covid-19 were reported to WHO from around the world in a single week

The Omicron variant of coronavirus is replacing the Delta variant in almost all countries, driving a massive spike in cases, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.

Ghebreyesus at a press briefing said that over 15 million new cases of Covid-19 were reported to WHO from around the world in a single week, which is by far the most cases reported in a single week.

“This huge spike in infections is being driven by the Omicron variant, which is rapidly replacing Delta in almost all countries,” he said.

India has reported 5,488 cases of the Omicron variant so far while recoveries for the variant stands at 2,162 as of Thursday morning, according to the official data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

‘Weekly reported deaths stable’

However, globally, the number of weekly reported deaths has remained stable since October 2021, at an average of 48 thousand deaths a week.

“While the number of patients being hospitalized is increasing in most countries, it is not at the level seen in previous waves,” the WHO Chief said.

“This is possibly due to the reduced severity of Omicron, as well as widespread immunity from vaccination or previous infection. But let’s be clear: while Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated,” he further added.

Ghebreyesus emphasised that learning to live with this virus does not mean this number of deaths should be accepted.

“We must not allow this virus a free ride or wave the white flag, especially when so many people around the world remain unvaccinated,” he said.

“In Africa, more than 85 per cent of people are yet to receive a single dose of vaccine. We cannot end the acute phase of the pandemic unless we close this gap,” he added.

However, progress has been made with

 COVAX shipping more than double the number of doses it shipped in November in December. 

“In the coming days, we expect COVAX to ship its 1 billionth vaccine dose,” the WHO Chief said.

“Some of the supply constraints we faced last year are now starting to ease, but we still have a long way to go to reach our target of vaccinating 70 per cent of the population of every country by the middle of this year. 90 countries have still not reached the 40 per cent target, and 36 of those countries have vaccinated less than 10 per cent of their populations,” he further added. 

Published on January 13, 2022

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