The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that cases of the Omicron variant could double every one and a half to three days.
On Saturday 18th December 2021, WHO announced that the Omicron variant has so far been detected in 89 countries.
The organization went on to say that Omicron cases could multiply at the level of local transmission, not just from abroad. It added that Omicron could overtake Delta as the dominant COVID-19 variant, as reported by the Associated Press.
The WHO underlined that Omicron is spreading rapidly, even in countries with high vaccination rates or where most of the population has recovered from COVID-19.
So far, it remains unclear whether the spike in Omicron cases is due to the variant’s ability to evade immunity. It may also be that the spike in cases is caused by another factor, namely that the Omicron variant is more contagious than the previous variant.
Some big questions about Omicron also remain unanswered, including how effective the existing COVID-19 vaccine is against it.
Another as yet unanswered question is how potentially the Omicron variant causes severe symptoms.
The WHO labeled the Omicron variant a variant of concern on 26th November. More recently, the UK Health Service reported 12,133 cases of Omicron in a day.
The addition brings the cumulative total of Omicron cases in the UK to 37,101 cases since it was first detected.