The G-7 Health Ministers, currently under the presidency of the United Kingdom, have indicated that “the global community” faces “the threat of a new and highly communicable variant of covid-19, which requires urgent action” . The omicron variant, detected last week in South Africa, has also set off the alarms of the World Health Organization (WHO), which this Monday warned in a technical document that the global risk of the omicron “is evaluated as very high ”And asks for extreme precautions. The scientific community is still not sure that this version of the virus is more transmissible and escapes vaccines, but the first indications and the more than 30 mutations detected in this variant have precipitated a chain reaction in half the world to stop the expansion of The omicron: European Union countries, the United States, Israel and Morocco, among others, have closed their borders to flights from southern Africa, although the virus has already penetrated several European states.
The British Minister of Health, Sajid Javid, announced this Sunday his intention to urgently bring together his colleagues from the seven most industrialized nations, and all of them participated this Monday morning in a videoconference. At least five cases of people infected with the omicron variant have already been detected in England, and another six in Scotland. The Boris Johsnon government has extended the campaign for the booster dose of the vaccine to all those over 18 years of age, and has cut the time required between the second and third injections from six to three months. Portugal has detected an outbreak of covid by omicron in a soccer team and other countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany, among others, have reported cases of this variant. Also in Spain, a case of infection with the new variant was detected this Monday in a 51-year-old man who traveled from South Africa to Madrid.
In the joint communiqué of the G-7 ministers, issued at the end of the meeting, they praised “the exemplary work of South Africa both in detecting the variant and in alerting the rest. [de países]”. The gesture comes after the WHO criticized the response of Western countries to South Africa’s alert, isolating this country with the closure of borders: the director of the health agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, insisted on Monday that South Africa ” she should be thanked and not penalized ”for this finding. The president of the United States, Joe Biden, for his part, has demanded calm. “[La nueva variante ómicron] it is cause for concern, but not for panic, ”he said in a speech from the White House accompanied by the chief epidemiologist of the US government, Antony Fauci. Biden added that experts do not consider that “additional measures” are necessary in the country, which is in a “better situation” than Christmas last year, reports EFE.
The G-7 ministers also expressed their support for a greater exchange of information, and the creation of “an international surveillance network for pathogens under the parameters of the World Health Organization.” Precisely, the WHO was meeting this Monday in an extraordinary assembly to negotiate a pandemic preparation treaty. “Our ability to end this pandemic is proof of our collective ability to effectively prevent and respond to future pandemics because the same principles apply: courageous leadership, fidelity to science, generosity in sharing the fruits of research, and a commitment unshakable with equity and solidarity ”, proclaimed Tedros at the opening of the WHO assembly.
The G-7 also puts the finger on the sore when remembering the need for vaccines to reach the entire population, and recalls that this means reinforcing “the capacity of countries to absorb the arrival of vaccines as well as their preparation to be able to distribute them ”. For this reason, the G-7 reaffirms its commitment to “facilitate operational assistance, promote the fulfillment of donation promises [de vacunas], and combat misinformation, as well as facilitate research and development ”. According to the WHO, however, inequity in access to vaccines persists: more than 80% of the world’s vaccines have been destined for the G-20 countries, while low-income countries, most of them in Africa, have only received 0.6% of vaccines, recalled the director of the WHO.
The G-7 has promised to meet again during the month of December. Jonathan Van-Tam, the chief medical director of the National Health Service of England, has estimated in three weeks the time it takes for the international scientific community to determine the true threat posed by the omicron variant, and what is the response it unleashes among the people who have received double vaccination and those who already have the third booster dose.