WHO scientist urges people not to panic over Omicron

The World Health Organization's (WHO) chief scientist on Friday urged people not to panic over the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant and said it was too early to say if vaccines would be need to be reworked.

Speaking in an interview at the Reuters Next conference, Soumya Swaminathan said it was impossible to predict if Omicron would become the dominant strain. Omicron has gained a foothold in Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and Europe and has reached seven of the nine provinces of South Africa, where it was first identified. read more Many governments have tightened travel rules to keep the variant out.

Swaminathan said Omicron was highly transmissible and cited data from South Africa showing the number of cases doubling daily. How worried should we be? We need to be prepared and cautious, not panic, because we're in a different situation to a year ago, she said.