The newly discovered Covid-19 variant “Omicron” is spreading fast across the world. Now, top US scientist Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that early indications suggested the Omicron variant was not worse than previous strains and was possibly weaker while warning it would take weeks to judge its severity.
Speaking to AFP, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor said the new variant is clearly highly infectious and likely more so than Delta.
Accumulating epidemiological data from around the world also shows re-infections are higher with Omicron and it is likely better at evading immunity from vaccination.
On the question of severity, “it almost certainly is not more severe than Delta,” said Fauci.
“There is some suggestion that it might even be less severe, because when you look at some cohorts that are being followed in South Africa, the ratio between the number of infections and the number of hospitalizations seems to be less than with Delta.”
Fauci said a more transmissible virus that doesn’t cause more severe illness and doesn’t lead to a surge of hospitalizations and deaths was the “best-case scenario.”
“The worst-case scenario is that it is not only highly transmissible, but it also causes severe disease and then you have another wave of infections that are not necessarily blunted by the vaccine or by people’s prior infections,” he added.