The World Health Organization has said that the Covid-19 omicron variant has the tendency to result in life-threatening illness for the unvaccinated, the elderly and people with underlying conditions.
According to the Director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, Dr. Mike Ryan, there is a higher risk for unvaccinated people, in the sense that an omicron infection will make them severely sick and could potentially even kill them.
The Director said, “Omicron still represents a massive threat to their life and a massive threat to their health,” whilst speaking of the unvaccinated on the WHO’s social media channels.
He further said, “People should really look at this in terms of really seriously considering getting out there and getting vaccinated”.
The WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, commented saying that older people and people with underlying health conditions face an elevated risk of death from omicron compared with other groups.
She said, “We do know that mortality increases with omicron with increasing age. We also have data from some countries that show that people with at least one underlying condition are at an increased risk of hospitalization and death, even if you have omicron as compared to delta.”
According to her, although there is a lower percentage of people who are dying from Covid during the current omicron wave, and the overall risk of severe disease and hospitalization is lower compared with delta, the less severity does not mean omicron only causes mild illnesses.
“It is not just a mild disease. This is really important because people are still being hospitalized for omicron”, she added.
The WHO health emergencies program Director, Ryan said health outcomes from viral infections often depend on a person’s baseline level health, including whether the immune system is strong or not and people with diabetes, he said, are not as well equipped to fight off the virus.
“We can definitely say that an omicron variant causes, on average, a less severe disease in any human being — but that’s on average. There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world in hospital as we speak with the omicron variant, and for them that’s a very severe disease,” Ryan said
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