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A leading epidemiologist has discussed how the new Covid-19 Omicron variant could be the “blessing” experts have been waiting for.

Appearing on Sunrise, Professor Tony Blakely said Omicron could be the pathway out of the pandemic if it proves to be more infectious but less severe, as experts have predicted.

“A year ago we were hoping that a more infectious, but less virulent variant comes along, which is what Omicron might be,” he said on Thursday.

The variant was first reported after cases emerged in South Africa, and initial reports indicate that the new strain of the virus is more transmissible but causes less severe illness than Delta.

The World Health Organisation expected to be able to provide clearer information on the Omicron variant “within days”.

The University of Melbourne virus expert has said there are early signs that Omicron could “displace” the dominant Delta strain, while also stressing that it is too early to make an official statement.

“This one should be more mild, but we don’t know exactly how much more mild it is, so that means that the hospitalisation rate should be less severe,” he explained.”

“It might become our get out of the pandemic card.”

Despite this seemingly good news, Professor Blakely also warned that although Omicron appears to be less dangerous than Delta, the next strain may not be.

“There will be more variants, and it is not guaranteed that the variant after Omicron and the next one will each be milder, it could become more severe.”

“So it’s a really interesting time to be an epidemiologist.”

Image credits: Getty Images / Sunrise

This article first appeared on Over60.