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WHO encourages vigilance, vaccinating in the face of Omicron

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: The WHO warns everyone to stay vigilant and get vaccinated in the face of Omicron. (via KARE)

The need to vaccinate and stay vigilant against Covid-19 as the Omicron variant spreads was stressed by the World Health Organisation in a briefing yesterday. The WHO called on countries to accelerate vaccination programs as much as possible and warn that the Omicron variant may change the course of the pandemic.

The Director-General of the WHO says that Omicron could severely change the trajectory of the pandemic and warned that people need to avoid getting complacent over Covid-19 to make sure we minimise the spread as much as possible.

“Certain features of omicron, including its global spread and large number of mutations, suggest it could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic. We can prevent omicron [from] becoming a global crisis. This virus is changing, but our collective resolve must not.”

While Omicron is the new worry, the Delta variant is still by far the dominant strain of Covid-19 and so WHO officials remind that vaccination against Delta must be a priority. The director of immunisation and vaccines at the WHO said that the existing vaccines should continue to be administered to stop the spread of Covid-19, and that the WHO was looking at details regarding Omicron and Pfizer.

A new study is showing that Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines may be fairly effective against the Omicron variant as well. The vaccine manufacturers said that initial lab results look promising, but 2 doses are not enough. The Chief Medical Officer at BioNTech, says researchers found that 2 doses of the vaccine produced much lower antibodies against the Omicron variant and that 3 doses were essential in restoring immunity.

The finding creates a rift though, as the evidence showing 3 vaccines are necessary against Omicron clashes with the push endorsed by the WHO to delay booster shots and redirect the vaccines to poorer countries where low vaccination rates have allowed Covid-19 infections to spread. Omicron has now been detected in 57 countries and looks to be more contagious than other strains, but some data suggests Omicron brings a milder infection.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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