Early action against Omicron is imperative to avoid devastating consequences | Ewan Birney
Scientists have sprung into action to identify the new Covid variant. We don’t yet know if it is a major threat – but we should not take any chances
It was only a matter of time before a new Sars-CoV-2 variant of concern emerged, requiring an urgent global response. It would seem that the Omicron variant, identified by scientists across Africa, including the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), poses the next major threat in the course of the pandemic. Early evidence from their genomic surveillance suggests that this new variant is a serious cause for concern and it is imperative that we act fast in response to this new information.
The variant has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong, and will undoubtedly continue to arise in other territories in the coming days; travel-related cases have appeared in Belgium and Israel. Two cases of the new variant have been detected in the UK at the time of writing.