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The European Union needs to buy time to assess fully the implications of the new Omicron coronavirus variant and to prepare, notably by pushing for greater vaccination rates, the president of the European Commission said on Sunday. Ursula Von der Leyen, speaking during a visit to Latvia, said she took the variant seriously. "We know that we are in a race against time.... And the scientists and manufacturers need two to three weeks to have a full picture about the quality of the mutations of this Omicron variant," she told a news conference.
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There are growing fears a newly discovered COVID-19 variant, said to be potentially more dangerous than the one causing waves of infection around the world, could impact Christmas. It comes as the World Health Organization branded the newly named Omicron variant, also called B.1.1.529, a "variant of concern", putting it in the same category as the Delta variant which has spread quickly throughout the world. The rapid spread of Delta is current responsible for sending some countries in Europe back into lockdown.