The World Health Organization said Tuesday that while the majority of cases are mild, the Covid omicron variant can result in life-threatening illness for the unvaccinated, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.
Dr. Mike Ryan, director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said unvaccinated people face a higher risk that an omicron infection will make them sick and and possibly even kill them.
“Omicron still represents a massive threat to their life and a massive threat to their health,” Ryan said during a Q&A livestreamed on the WHO’s social media channels.
Vaccinated people, on the other hand, generally experience mild illness if they get a breakthrough infection.
“People should really look at this in terms of really seriously considering getting out there and getting vaccinated,” Ryan said.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, said the elderly and people with underlying conditions face an elevated risk of death from omicron compared with other groups.