WHO Says Omicron Is Life-Threatening For Unvaccinated, Elderly, Underlying Conditions: 3 Things To Know

While many have dubbed Omicron a “mild” variant of covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging people to still take precautions against the “massive threat” it presents – particularly certain groups like the unvaccinated, elders and those with underlying conditions. Here are three things to know about how the Omicron variant affects certain groups.

1. WHO says Omicron is still a larger threat to people’s health and lives, particularly those who are unvaccinated.

According to WHO Director Dr. Mike Ryan, unvaccinated people are still at greater risk with the Omicron variant.

“Omicron still represents a massive threat to their life and a massive threat to their health,” WHO Director Dr. Mike Ryan said about those who unvaccinated during a Q&A live-streamed on Tuesday, Jan. 11 on the organization’s social media channels.

“People should really look at this in terms of really seriously considering getting out there and getting vaccinated,” Ryan continued.

2. Elderly people are still at a higher risk of contracting Omicron, WHO says.

WHO’s technical lead and Ryan’s colleague, Maria Van Kerkhove, said elderly individuals were also under increased threat.

“We do know that mortality increases with omicron with increasing age,” Van Kerkhove said, according to CNBC. “We also have data from some countries that show that people with at least one underlying condition are at an increased risk of hospitalization and death, even if you have omicron as compared to delta.”

While she acknowledged omicron has lower hospitalization rates than the delta variant, Kerkhove said it still shouldn’t be taken lightly. “It is not just a mild disease,” Van Kerkhove said. “This is really important because people are still being hospitalized for omicron.”

3. People with pre-existing or underlying conditions can also still be severly impacted by omicron.

People with pre-existing conditions can also be severely affected by omicron, Ryan added. “We can definitely say that an omicron variant causes, on average, a less severe disease in any human being — but that’s on average,” Ryan said. “There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world in hospital as we speak with the omicron variant, and for them that’s a very severe disease.”


Photo by: KGC-254/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 12/19/21 Ambulances are seen parked outside St Thomas’ Hospital on December 19th 2021 in London, England, UK. Covid-19 hospitalisations are rising in the UK amid the latest wave of Covid-19 infections being fuelled by the Omicron variant. Although the numbers remain far below peak, the infection rate threatens to overwhelm the NHS, and may cause staff shortages as workers are forced to quarantine.

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