TAMPA, Fla. — The director-general of the World Health Organization told people around the globe Monday that in some cases it would be best to cancel holiday plans/events due to the omicron variant of COVID-19.
During a discussion about the omicron variant's spread around the world and the impact it has had on citizens; Dr. Tedros Ghebreysus said that while everyone wants to get back to normal, tough decisions by people and leaders still need to be made.
"In some cases that will mean canceling or delaying events," Dr. Tedros said. "But, an even canceled is better than a life canceled. It's better to cancel now and celebrate later than to celebrate now and grieve later."
The omicron variant has been detected in 89 countries around the world and the WHO said the understanding of the variant will "continue to evolve as more data becomes available. Researchers have said the omicron variant is spreading rapidly in many countries, even those with high vaccination rates.
The WHO said preliminary data showed a "reduction in neutralizing titrates among omicron in those who have received a primary vaccination series or in those who have had prior COVID-19 infections, which "may suggest a level of humoral immune evasion."
World Health Organization guidance suggests that omicron will soon outpace the delta variant where community transmission of COVID-19 is occurring. The question remains how severe will omicron be and what will happen as the United States opens up holiday travel to numbers not seen since the pandemic began.
According to the WHO, to prepare for possible rapid growth of cases, states/countries need to:
- Regularly reassess and revise national plans based on the current situation and national capacities
- Use well-fitting masks, physical distancing, ventilation of indoor spaces, crowd avoidance during holiday periods, and washing hands
- Ensure mitigation plans are in place to maintain essential health services and health care resources are in place if a surge of cases happens
- Accelerate vaccination coverage in at-risk populations as rapidly as possible, especially those considered high priority
- Ensure early warning systems are in place to inform efficient and rational adjustment of public health
- Among other measures