By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) - A World Health Organization expert on Tuesday said that the omicron variant of COVID-19 affects the upper part of the body and that the WHO is monitoring a new variant reportedly found in France.
"We're seeing more and more studies pointing out that omicron is infecting the upper part of the body, unlike other ones," said Abdi Mahamud, the WHO incident manager for the pandemic.
Speaking at a UN press conference, Mahamud explained that the omicron variant was different from others in that they hit the lungs and "had been causing severe pneumonia."
"We had a good number of studies proving again … from South Africa that the vaccines still protect you against hospitalization, and severe disease and death," said the WHO doctor.
"The challenge has not been the vaccine, but the vaccination reaching vulnerable populations."
When asked about a new variant of the coronavirus reported from France, Mahamud said: "B1640 has been under our radar from November, and we have been looking very closely at that."
The WHO doctor was asked if it was prudent to consider the development of a new vaccine against rapidly spreading omicron.
"It's difficult to predict where omicron will go from here. Therefore, it is still early to make such a decision on this issue," Mahamud said.