A number of social media users are claiming that the World Economic Forum (WEF) had mentioned about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in an article written “way back in July” 2021. We fact-checked and found that the claim is False.
“They’re starting to make mistakes. WHO just said that ‘Omicron’ was first reported by South Africa on 11/24/21. However, WEF reported this EXACT same ‘variant’—B.1.1.529, out of South Africa—way back in July. Oops,” reads a Tweet. The claim has been shared in multiple forms across social media. Such posts can be seen here, here and here.
What is Omicron variant of COVID-19?
Omicron is a variant of COVID-19 causing Coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic is being caused by a variant of Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 or 2019-nCoV). This virus has been mutating constantly. Any virus with one or more new mutations can be referred to as a ‘variant’ of the original virus.
The WHO has named COVID-19 causing Coronavirus variants after Greek alphabets. Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta has been used to name 4 variant of concern and Lambda and Mu as variants of Interest. On 26 November 2021, WHO named the variant Omicron (scientifically called B.1.1.529) and designated it as a variant of concern.
The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a record of all Coronavirus variants related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The list can be followed here. The variants are tracked by their place of origin and are categorised as variants of concern and variants of interest.
Did World Economic Forum (WEF) report about Omicron variant in July 2021?
No. World Economic Forum did not report about the Omicron variant or B.1.1.529 in July 2021.
The variant was first documented in November 2021. So, there is no way WEF could have reported about the virus in July 2021.
Did WEF publish an article in July 2021 which has the mention of the Omicron variant?
No. WEF did not publish an article mentioning Omicron variant in July 2021. They have updated an old article to add reference of the new Coronavirus variant. The same can be seen and proven through archiving tools.
Most social media users who made the claim referred to an article published on the WEF website titled, “Explainer: This is how scientists detect new variants of COVID-19.” The article was first published on July 12, 2021. WEF has updated the content of the article since then with updated information. The current version of the article contains reference to the B.1.1.529 variant of Coronavirus (Omicron).
The fact that WEF page does not show ‘Updated date’ on the article has lead to confusion and made many people believe that the reference to Omicron variant has been mentioned back in July when the article was first published. However, the July version of the article can easily be seen on Web Archive (an internet repository of historical content) here. The archived version clearly proves that the initial version did not have any reference to the Omicron variant.
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