The omicron variant of the coronavirus has been already detected in 77 countries, although it is probably already present all over the world, and it is expanding “at a rate that we had not seen in any of the previous strains “, has alerted the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Probably, it is already in most of the countries, even in those that has not yet been detected”, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has acknowledged at a press conference, who has expressed his concern that a large part of society has lowered its guard against this evolution of the virus.
Risk for the health system
Tedros has insisted that “vaccines alone are not going to get any country out of this crisis”, since the transmission of the coronavirus must be dealt with by other means, including the use of masks, avoiding crowded places, good ventilation or hand hygiene.
“People are considering that the omicron variant is associated with less severe cases, but we have learned before that underestimating this virus is dangerous,” said the expert. “Even if omicron causes fewer serious cases, a sharp increase in infections can again collapse health systems that are not sufficiently prepared, “warned the head of the Geneva-based organization.
Vaccinating “everyone” is more urgent than booster doses
The general director of the institution has insisted that it is priority for vaccines to reach populations that have not yet received the first regimen before than giving booster doses in countries with high immunization rates.
“The WHO is not against booster doses, but we are against inequality,” he said at a press conference, given the growing number of countries that have begun to give these doses to their entire adult population in response to the increase. of cases for the new variant.
Tedros has warned that these campaigns are being launched “even though there is still no evidence on the effectiveness of booster doses against the new variant” and has stressed that eThese measures can repeat the problems of excessive accumulation of vaccines in certain countries while in others these drugs do not arrive.
The expert has admitted that booster vaccines (towards which the WHO has requested a moratorium until the end of the year) “can play a role. important role for people at risk of contracting serious or lethal forms of COVID-19 “, but has stressed that the main concern of his agency now is” saving lives around the world. “
“Giving booster shots to groups not at risk of severe COVID-19 endangers the lives of those at risk who still waiting for their first dose“, has affirmed.
Tedros recalled that about a hundred countries on the planet have not yet reached 40% of their population vaccinated against COVID-19, a percentage that the WHO expected to reach before the end of the year in all territories, to achieve 70% by mid-2022.