June 30, 2022


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Classification of Omicron (B.1.1.529): SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern

The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is an unbiased group of consultants that periodically displays and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if particular mutations and combos of mutations alter the behaviour of the virus. The TAG-VE was convened on 26 November 2021 to evaluate the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529.

The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological state of affairs in South Africa has been characterised by three distinct peaks in reported circumstances, the newest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In latest weeks, infections have elevated steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The primary recognized confirmed B.1.1.529 an infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.

This variant has a lot of mutations, a few of that are regarding. Preliminary proof suggests an elevated danger of reinfection with this variant, as in comparison with different VOCs. The variety of circumstances of this variant seems to be rising in virtually all provinces in South Africa. Present SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics proceed to detect this variant. A number of labs have indicated that for one extensively used PCR take a look at, one of many three goal genes isn’t detected (referred to as S gene dropout or S gene goal failure) and this take a look at can due to this fact be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing affirmation. Utilizing this method, this variant has been detected at sooner charges than earlier surges in an infection, suggesting that this variant could have a development benefit.

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There are a variety of research underway and the TAG-VE will proceed to judge this variant. WHO will talk new findings with Member States and to the general public as wanted.

Primarily based on the proof offered indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has suggested WHO that this variant needs to be designated as a VOC, and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron.

As such, international locations are requested to do the next:

  • improve surveillance and sequencing efforts to raised perceive circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
  • submit full genome sequences and related metadata to a publicly out there database, comparable to GISAID.
  • report preliminary circumstances/clusters related to VOC an infection to WHO by the IHR mechanism.
  • the place capability exists and in coordination with the worldwide group, carry out subject investigations and laboratory assessments to enhance understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public well being and social measures, diagnostic strategies, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or different related traits.

People are reminded to take measures to scale back their danger of COVID-19, together with confirmed public well being and social measures comparable to sporting well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, bodily distancing, bettering air flow of indoor areas, avoiding crowded areas, and getting vaccinated.

For reference, WHO has working definitions for SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Curiosity (VOI) and Variant of Concern (VOC).

A SARS-CoV-2 VOI is a SARS-CoV-2 variant:

  • with genetic adjustments which might be predicted or recognized to have an effect on virus traits comparable to transmissibility, illness severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape; AND
  • that has been recognized as inflicting vital group transmission or a number of COVID-19 clusters, in a number of international locations with rising relative prevalence alongside rising variety of circumstances over time, or different obvious epidemiological impacts to recommend an rising danger to world public well being. 
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A SARS-CoV-2 VOC is a SARS-CoV-2 variant that meets the definition of a VOI (see above) and, by a comparative evaluation, has been demonstrated to be related to a number of of the next adjustments at a level of world public well being significance:

  • enhance in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; OR
  • enhance in virulence or change in scientific illness presentation; OR
  • lower in effectiveness of public well being and social measures or out there diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics