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World Economic Forum (WEF) did not report about the Omicron variant in July 2021

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A post along with the photo of an article is being widely shared on social media claiming that the World Economic Forum (WEF) knew about the Omicron variant in July 2021. The post even claims that the WEF knew about this B.1.1.529 variant whereas World Health Organisation (WHO) reported it on 24 November 2021. Let us fact-check the claim made in the post.

Claim: World Economic Forum reported about the Omicron variant in July 2021.

Fact: The World Economic Forum (WEF) did not report about the Omicron variant in July 2021. The WEF article that mentioned the B.1.1.529 or the Omicron variant was updated on 26 November 2021 to include the information about the new variant. The new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.529 was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. “The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 09 November 2021.” The B.1.1.529 variant was designated as a ‘variant of concern’ on 26 November 2021 by the WHO. Hence, the claim made in the post is FALSE.

When we searched on the internet for the World Economic Forum (WEF) article mentioned in the post, it was found that there was a mention of B.1.1.529 variant in the article. Though the article was originally published on 12 July 2021, it was updated on 26 November 2021. The article even has a link to a news report about the Omicron variant published on 25 November 2021, which wouldn’t have been possible if the article were not updated to include this link.

An archived version of the article from 12 July 2021 makes no mention of the Omicron variant or the B.1.1.529 variant. Even the archived version of the article from 22 September 2021 makes no mention of the Omicron variant. On comparing the three archived versions of the article (12 July, 22 September, 27 November), one can see that there was mention of a new COVID variant in South Africa, only in November.

The new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.529 was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. “The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 09 November 2021.” Based on the evidence that Omicron has several mutations, WHO designated the B.1.1.529 variant a ‘variant of concern’ on 26 November 2021. As of now, it is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible compared to other variants, including Delta.

To sum it up, World Economic Forum (WEF) did not report about the Omicron variant in July 2021.

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