The World Health Organization (WHO) considers that COVID-19 vaccines are “unlikely” to lose all effectiveness, ” Although they may respond differently to the new variant of the coronavirus, omicron.
“Nobody expects vaccines to have no effect against the new variant “, stressed the director of the Immunization Department, Kate O’Brien, and assured that experts from within and outside the WHO continue to analyze the mutations of the virus and their possible impact on immunity, as well as on treatments and diagnostic tests. Meanwhile, it is still important that “everyone with access to doses gets vaccinated.” “It cannot be assumed that the vaccinated population will protect the unvaccinated,” he said.
This Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNTech have assured that three doses of your vaccine are effective against the omicron variant, while the usual regimen (of two doses) has seen its effectiveness diminish, according to the preliminary results of the studies in the laboratory. The companies have assured that they are already working on a new version of the antidote, which could be ready by March 2022.
Severe cases are, above all, unvaccinated people
Beyond the specific efficacy of each of the vaccines, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan added that most of the serious cases currently treated in ICU are unvaccinated people, and it has regretted that even in developed countries with wide access to doses there are still vaccination coverage below 70 or 60% of the population.
“The message is clear, the vaccine protects against serious and fatal cases, and we want to vaccinate all vulnerable groups before the end of 2021,” Swaminathan emphasized, before recalling whate in Africa only one in four health workers is vaccinated against COVID-19.
For this reason, the experts have insisted that reaching more communities is still essential, even, when asked if the increase in COVID-19 cases in European countries could cause the WHO to rethink its call to delay booster doses so that, thus, there are more vaccines in developing economies.
“The priority continues to be that the vaccine reaches people who have not yet been vaccinated,” O’Brien stressed, and stated that studies show that after two doses, without a booster, in general the subjects continue to be protected against serious forms of COVID-19. This, however, could have been challenged by Pfizer and BioNTech in their statement on Wednesday.
In addition, the immunologist O’Brien has indicated that this week the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts of the WHO on vaccines (SAGE) is meeting to study possible changes in the recommendations around booster doses, that in many countries, such as Spain, they are already being administered to the elderly and risk groups.
Tedros: The world can prevent omicron variant from generating another global crisis
Also this Wednesday, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has asked governments to review their strategies to prevent the new variant from generating a global crisis.
“Each government, each individual, must use all the tools that we have, and the States they should review their national plans according to the current situation “, has sentenced Tedros, and has insisted that vaccination should be accelerated to populations most at risk. “If countries wait for their hospitals to start filling up, it will be too late, we must act now.”
Again, he has urged countries to share any epidemiological data with the international community for better monitoring of the omicron variant, while giving them has demanded “lift the discriminatory travel bans” such as those that were issued at the end of November against countries in southern Africa.