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Preliminary data suggest omicron is more transmissible, causes milder cases than delta, WHO says

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking in October 2021. (Fabrice Coffrini/AP)
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World Health Organization officials said Wednesday that preliminary data suggest omicron presents a rapid increase in transmission but the variant causes milder cases of covid-19 than delta, which is still spreading across the globe.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against drawing “firm conclusions,” as he said it is “too early to be sure” and more data and time is needed to have a “complete picture” on the risks and impact of the variant.

He urged countries to keep their guard up, accelerate vaccine access and intensify measures to keep transmissions down. He also urged countries to expand testing and surveillance activities and share samples with the international community.

Here’s what to know

  • Nearly two years into the pandemic, every country, including the United States, remains dangerously unprepared to respond to future epidemic and pandemic threats, according to a report released Wednesday.
  • Early data from Pfizer and BioNTech suggest that two shots of their vaccine may not be sufficient to prevent infection from omicron and booster doses will be critical.
  • Crowded airports and gatherings are back this season. Our interactive guide will help you navigate them as safely as possible