What is Omicron and what all you need to know about the virus?

Omicron is the 15th letter in Greek alphabets.

“Just when it seemed like life would return to normal, we could be entering the worst part of the pandemic. Omicron will hit home for all of us. Close friends of mine now have it, and I’ve canceled most of my holiday plans,” Gates tweeted.

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus could herald the worst phase of the pandemic, billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates warned in a Twitter thread on Tuesday. With the new variant “spreading faster than any virus in history”, Gates urged people to get booster shots, and to take adequate precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.

He said that the new variant is likely to soon make its presence felt in every country in the world. But with little data on “how sick Omicron makes you”, Gates stressed that it was important to take it seriously until we know more about it.“Even if it’s only half as severe as delta, it will be the worst surge we have seen so far because it’s so infectious,” he warned.

We will soon start seeing an increase in breakthrough cases in people who have already been vaccinated. “Which sounds concerning but is purely a factor of how many people are vaccinated and how fast this variant is spreading. Vaccines are designed to prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying and are doing that well,” Gates wrote on Tuesday.

But there is still some good news: while the Omicron wave will quickly become dominant, Gates believes it won’t last long. “Once it becomes dominant in a country, the wave there should last less than 3 months,” he went on to say. “Those few months could be bad, but I still believe if we take the right steps, the pandemic can be over in 2022.”

“I know it’s frustrating to go into another holiday season with Covid looming over us. But it won’t be like this forever. Someday the pandemic will end, and the better we look after each other, the sooner that time will come,” Gates wrote.

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