The World Health Organization (WHO) Friday designated a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa with a large number of mutations as being “of concern,” the fifth variant to be given the designation.

The WHO said in a statement that it had assigned the B.1.1.529 variant the Greek letter Omicron.

It is appropriate to be concerned about the new variant, WHO’s Special Envoy on COVID-19 David Nabarro said on Friday.

“My own view is that really it is appropriate to be concerned about this,” he told the BBC.

“I’ll tell you why: The virus looks like it will have greater capacity to evade the defenses that we’ve all built up as a result of the vaccinations we’ve received since the beginning of this year.”

 

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