On 26 November 2021 the WHO designated the new SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.529, now named Omicron, a variant of concern.
Much is still unknown about Omicron and it is expected that the variant’s real world impact will become clearer over the next weeks.
What is Omicron? In late November a group of closely related viruses was identified from Southern Africa which harboured a unique set of mutations, not previously seen with other variants such as Beta or Delta. At the time of writing, Omicron has also been detected in European countries, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and the Asia-Pacific region.
Frequently asked questions: SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529/Omicron variant