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  1. On November 24th, South Africa reported to the WHO the identification of a new variant, B 1.1.529. On November 26th, B 1.1.529 was designated a variant of concern by the WHO based on South Africa's epidemiological data that indicated an increase in infections, in the area. On December 1st, the first case was reported in the U.S. A total of 182 cases have been reported so far in several European countries, as well as in Canada, Hong Kong, Brazil, Israel, Japan, and Nigeria. Globally, there are 486 confirmed cases reported by 38 countries. What concerns the WHO, the CDC and the EHC is the number of spike protein substitutions which could potentially suggest increased transmissibility and reduced susceptibility to vaccine sera and monoclonal antibody therapeutics. They also coincide in pointing out it is too early to come to conclusions since research is underway all over the world. What is certain is that the number of cases is too low to understand how Omicron's clinical spectrum differs from previously detected variants. All cases for which there is available info were either asymptomatic or mild and most of them were travel-related. As for Turkey, Minister Koca declared on Dec. 5th after meeting with the Coronavirus Advisory Board, that no cases of the variant have been detected yet. Dr. Alper Şener, a member of the above board, pointed out yesterday that taking into account the speed at which omicron cases rose in South Africa, it is logical to think it will reach Turkey. Coinciding with other colleagues, he added that sufficient research data is not available yet.
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