The Omicron wave of the coronavirus pandemic is being driven by one particular group of people, data shows.
The Omicron wave of the coronavirus pandemic is being driven by “young, healthy, vaccinated” people, according to the World Health Organisation.
Data from countries including the UK, Denmark and South Africa show a similar pattern of infection with the new variant, which has now been detected in more than 60 countries including Australia.
“Generally those first cases are in relatively young, relatively healthy and – in the context of Europe – in relatively highly vaccinated groups,” Dr Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer at the World Health Organisation’s Europe office, told the UK’s Telegraph.
In Australia, NSW recorded a massive spike in cases on Tuesday as a cluster linked to a Newcastle nightclub – which requires proof of vaccination to enter – continues to grow.
More than 93 per cent of people aged over 16 in NSW are now fully vaccinated.
In Denmark, 70 per cent of its 3437 Omicron cases detected have been among people aged under 40, according to data published on Monday.
The European Centre for Disease Control found 72 per cent of early Omicron cases were under 40, while the US said the majority of its 43 infections so far were in the same age bracket and just under 80 per cent were fully vaccinated.
But despite evidence Omicron evades vaccines, experts have urged against panic in the face of what to date appears to be a milder strain of Covid-19.
“[Omicron] spreads more than Delta, but the consequences aren’t more than Delta,” ANU infectious diseases expert Peter Collignon told The Daily Telegraph.
“We should treat it the same as Delta. We have to be careful not to overreact.”
The WHO’s Dr Smallwood, however, said it was too soon to confirm whether Omicron triggered milder disease.
“It’s really important we don’t get ahead of ourselves in terms of judging the severity of Omicron,” she said.
“Because in terms of the cases we’ve picked up, they’re in a healthier, more mobile, younger, highly vaccinated population … and we’re not even that far into the disease trajectory.”
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday confirmed the country’s first death with the variant.
Earlier it was revealed 10 patients were in English hospitals with Omicron.
“Sadly yes Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron,” Mr Johnson said during a visit to a vaccination clinic in London.
“So I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus, I think that’s something we need to set on one side and just recognise the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population. So the best thing we can do is all get our boosters.”
It came as UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed boosters would become mandatory for vaccine passes to attend public events.
Mr Javid told Parliament the change would take effect “once all adults have had a reasonable chance to get their booster jab”.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first raised the alarm about Omicron, had previously stated the variant appeared “mild” and expressed surprise at the “extreme response” by world governments including the UK.
The GP and chair of the South African Medical Association stressed that “nothing I have seen about this new variant warrants the extreme action the UK government has taken in response to it”.
“In South Africa, we’ve retained a sense of perspective,” she wrote in an opinion piece for The Daily Mail on November 30.
“We’ve had no new regulations or talk of lockdowns because we’re waiting to see what the variant actually means.”
She added, “If, as some evidence suggests, Omicron turns out to be a fast-spreading virus with mostly mild symptoms for the majority of the people who catch it, that would be a useful step on the road to herd immunity. We’ll learn in the next two weeks if that’s the case.”
On Wednesday, the South African Medical Research Council is set to release excess death figures for the last two weeks.