By Ainslie Chandler December 2, 2021

There is no indication that the omicron variant of Covid-19 is more deadly than other strains, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said in a recorded message Thursday. In fact, the opposite may be true, he said.

“Of the over 300 cases that have now been diagnosed in many countries, they have all been very mild or in fact had no symptoms at all,” Kelly said.

Australia has recorded seven cases of the omicron variant, with two of the infected individuals spending time in the community. Six of those cases have been in New South Wales, the country’s most populous state.

Many of the hundreds of omicron infections appearing around the world are in inoculated individuals, Kelly said. Still, there’s no evidence to suggest that existing Covid-19 vaccines do not work against the latest variant of concern.

“Many of the cases that have been diagnosed in many countries around the world, from travelers almost exclusively from southern Africa, have been doubly vaccinated,” Kelly said. “But, again, they have not had severe disease. So we need to wait and watch and gather more information.”

Most global travel is being undertaken by vaccinated individuals, who are able to travel quarantine free to a range of countries prior to the emergence of the latest strain of concern. Australia has delayed reopening plans and several countries have now tightened rules for travelers to help stem the spread of the new variant.