WHO Names New COVID Variant of Concern ‘Omicron’

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the new Covid strain, first referred to as lineage B.1.1.529 and now named omicron, as a variant of concern. WHO said it will take weeks to understand how the variant may affect diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. News of the South African variant sent shockwaves throughout financial markets in thin post Thanksgiving Day trade. Oil fell over 10% on the news with fear of economy’s shutting down again.

Coronavirus Contagion


Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet

Omicron has over 30 mutations in it’s spike protein Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead on Covid-19. In a statement on Friday, the W.H.O. said the Omicron variant had “a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning,” and that “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other” variants of the virus.

“Omicron, B.1.1.529, is named as a variant of concern because it has some concerning properties,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said in a video published on Twitter. “This variant has a large number of mutations, and some of these mutations have some worrying characteristics.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said in a video published on Twitter

At this point only a few dozen cases of the new variant have been identified in South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel. Scientists have yet to determine if the variant is more contagious or lethal, or if it could diminish the protective power of vaccines.

The W.H.O.’s statement said that the first case of the variant, also known as B.1.1.529, was recorded on Nov. 9 and that it now appeared to be spreading in most of the provinces of South Africa.

Spike Proteins gain entry through host cells

Researchers in South Africa found more than 30 mutations to the spike protein on the surface of the Omicron coronavirus. The protein latches onto host cells to gain entry and is also the chief target of antibodies that can stop an infection. The large number of mutations raised concerns that Omicron might evade antibodies produced by infections from previous variants, or by vaccines.

United States will place restrictions on travelers from South Africa and 7 other African countries.

Starting on Monday President Biden and his administration will prohibit travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi from coming to the United States. The move is to try to contain the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, senior administration officials said on Friday, though they said it would be impossible to prevent it from entering the United States.

African Horn Affected by US Omicron Ban

The travel ban will not apply to American citizens or lawful permanent residents, officials said. But they will need to show a negative coronavirus test before coming to the United States.

Mr. Biden made the decision after he was briefed by advisers including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, who said in an interview Friday that the variant appeared to be spreading rapidly and that he and other health officials in the United States were consulting with South African scientists.

Canada closes borders to passengers from Horn of Africa

Canada to issue travel advisory to ask all Canadians not to travel to Southern Africa for the time being

Will temporarily ban arrival of all people who have been in 7 southern African nations in the last 14 days

Source: Bloomberg, Twitter, TC

From The TradersCommunity News Desk