“Preliminary data from South Africa indicate an increased risk of reinfection with omicron, but more data is needed to draw more definitive conclusions. There is also evidence to suggest omicron causes less severe symptoms than delta, but again it is too early to tell,” Tedros said. Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the foundation, said the information is final.
Action now to contain Omicron
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said governments must urgently increase their national responses to COVID-19 and speed up their vaccination programs to limit the spread of the Omicron variant.
“The global spread of the variant suggests that it could have a significant impact on the epidemic, and it is time to contain it, before more Omicron patients are hospitalized,” Tedros told a news conference.
“We are asking all countries to step up surveillance, testing and sequencing,” he said. “…any complacency now will cost lives,” he repeated.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization focused on the possibility that countries could contain the variables if they acted now.
The claims come roughly in parallel with other claims made by a high-ranking WHO official. Despite the lack of data, a senior WHO official believes that current vaccines also protect against serious diseases in the case of the new variant.
The WHO’s chief scientific officer, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, also noted preliminary studies published in recent days that appear to show that the alternative makes the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines less effective, and demanded the most care in interpreting them.
“There is a large variation in the decrease in antibody efficacy ranging from 4 to 5 times less to 40 times in these different studies,” which are limited to studying the effect only on antibodies “when we know that the immune system is more complex.”
He cautioned that “it is too early to conclude that decreasing the neutralizing activity of antibodies should lead to a significant reduction in the efficacy of vaccines.”
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