How bad is Omicron? What scientists know so far

Source: Nature

Barely a week has elapsed since scientists in Botswana and South Africa alerted the world to a fast-spreading SARS-CoV-2 variant now known as Omicron. Researchers worldwide are racing to understand the threat that the variant — now confirmed in more than 20 countries — poses to the world. Yet it might take scientists weeks to paint a more complete picture of Omicron, and to gain an understanding of its transmissibility and severity, as well as its potential to evade vaccines and cause reinfections.

“Wherever I go, everyone says: tell us more about Omicron,” says Senjuti Saha, a molecular microbiologist and director of the Child Health Research Foundation in Dhaka, Bangladesh. “There is so little understanding of what’s going on, and that’s true, even for scientists.”
How fast is Omicron spreading?

Omicron’s rapid rise in South Africa is what worries researchers most, because it suggests the variant could spark explosive increases in COVID-19 cases elsewhere. On 1 December, South Africa recorded 8,561 cases, up from the 3,402 reported on 26 November and several hundred per day in mid-November, with much of the growth occurring in Gauteng Province, home to Johannesburg.