Scientists in South Africa and Botswana recently notified health authorities of a new COV- ID-19 mutation.

Rapidly identified and shared through ongoing genomic surveillance, the new mutation, named Omicron, was designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organization less than a week after its discovery. Variants of concern tend to be more transmissible, more likely to evade detection, and less responsive to vaccines and therapeutics.

While international scientists scramble for more information on this latest variant, here's a quick summary of what we know: What are the new variant's characteristics: How transmissible is it? Will it lead to severe illness?

Will vaccines protect against it? Scientists are still gathering data on many of the variant's characteristics. However, early findings from South Africa suggest that the variant may be more transmissible, while WHO has indicated that there may be increased risk of reinfection as compared to other variants.

However, no deaths related to the Omicron variant have been reported so far. - blog.adb.org/blogs

A version of this article appears in the print on January 11, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.