Johannesburg: The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading faster but it is likely that it is less severe, according to researchers in South Africa.
The Covid-19 virus is spreading faster than ever in South Africa, the country's president said Monday, an indication of how the new Omicron variant is driving the pandemic, but there are early indications that Omicron may cause less serious illness than other forms of the virus, The New York Times reported.
The researchers, from a major hospital complex in Pretoria, said that their patients infected with the Omicron variant are much less sick than those they have treated before.
"Other hospitals are seeing the same trends," researchers said adding that most of their infected patients in hospitals were admitted for other reasons and have no COVID symptoms.
But scientists have said that it is too early to consider these speculations as one hundred per cent true, reported the New York Times.
Dr Emily S. Gurley, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said of the signs that the variant is less severe, "It would not be shocking if that's true, but I'm not sure we can conclude that yet."
This development comes as Omicron has been reported in 57 countries, and World Health Organization (WHO) expects the number to continue growing.
Features of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, including the extent to which it will spread, and the sheer number of mutations, suggest that it could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic, according to WHO.
During Wednesday's latest weekly briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus highlighted "a consistent picture of the rapid increase in transmission" but said that the exact rate of increase relative to other variants remains difficult to quantify.
Despite some data from South Africa suggesting an increased risk of re-infection with Omicron, more data is needed, UN News reported. Experts believe that the variant might also cause milder disease than Delta, but there is no definitive answer yet....