In a news release, the organization said that the independent Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) had been convened to assess the "variant of concern."
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution met today to review what is known about the #COVID19 variant B.1.1.529.— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) November 26, 2021
They advised WHO that it should be designated a Variant of Concern.
WHO has named it Omicron, in line with naming protocols https://t.co/bSbVas9yds pic.twitter.com/Gev1zIt1Ek
"The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on [Nov. 24, 2021]. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the delta variant," the WHO explained. "In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on [Nov. 9, 2021]."
The omicron variant, the agency noted, has a large number of mutations, "some of which are concerning."