The Omicron variant does not appear to be any worse than other strains of coronavirus and is highly unlikely to escape vaccine protections altogether, and senior scientists from the WHO and the United States said Tuesday amid the problems of increasing public health.
The optimistic assessments came as global concern grew over the mutated variant of the coronavirus, which has forced dozens of countries to reimpose border restrictions and raised the possibility of a return to economically punitive lockdowns.
Although it is probably more transmissible than previous variants, it is also “very unlikely” that Omicron will completely escape vaccine protections, the number two of the World Health Organization told AFP on Tuesday.
“Preliminary data does not indicate that this is more serious. In fact, the direction is more towards less seriousness,” said WHO emergency director Michael Ryan.
While insisting that more research was needed, Ryan said there was no sign that Omicron could completely bypass the protections provided by existing Covid vaccines.
“We have very effective vaccines that have been shown to be effective against all variants so far, in terms of serious illness and hospitalization… There is no reason to expect that this is not the case. case “for Omicron, he added, pointing to initial data from South Africa, where the strain was first reported.
However, Ryan acknowledged that it was possible that existing vaccines could prove to be less effective against Omicron, which has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein that dots the surface of the coronavirus and allows it to invade cells.
“No harsher” than Delta, says FauciAmerican scientist Anthony Fauci echoed the WHO point of view, saying Omicron did not look worse than previous strains based on early indications – and was perhaps milder.
The new variant is “clearly highly transmissible,” most likely more than Delta, the current global dominant strain, Fauci told AFP.
“It’s almost certainly no worse than Delta,” he added. “There is some suggestion that it might even be less serious. “
But he noted that it was important not to overinterpret this data because the populations being tracked were skewed and were less likely to be hospitalized. Serious illness can also take weeks to develop.
“Then as we get more and more infections in the rest of the world, it may take longer to see what the level of severity is.”
EU agencies approve mixing and pairingThe detection of the first cases of Omicron last month coincided with an increase in the number of infections across the world, and the variant has fueled concerns about a global resurgence of Covid-19.
EU health agencies said on Tuesday that a mix and match of approved Covid-19 vaccines could be used for both initial courses and booster doses, as the region struggles with rising cases before the holiday season.
Evidence suggests that the combination of viral vector vaccines and mRNA vaccines produces good levels of antibodies against the coronavirus causing Covid-19, said the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Center for Prevention and Control diseases (ECDC) in a press release.
Covid-19 has killed more than 5.2 million people worldwide since the coronavirus was first declared in late 2019, with scientists and health experts saying vaccinations and continued social distancing are key to overcome the disease.
(AXADLETM with AFP)
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