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Omicron affects vaccinated and survivors alike, WHO says

Tuesday, December 21st 2021 - 09:12 UTC
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Tedros explained it was better to cancel the celebrations now “and celebrate life tomorrow”, than to “celebrate today and mourn tomorrow.” Tedros explained it was better to cancel the celebrations now “and celebrate life tomorrow”, than to “celebrate today and mourn tomorrow.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) Monday warned that the Omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2 “infects those vaccinated and those recovered from coronavirus” alike, according to statements from Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The Organization confirmed there was robust evidence that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or those who were infected in the past can now contract the Omicron variant, whose spread is accelerating rapidly worldwide.

In press conference from Geneva, Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the information available about Omicron indicated that this variant circulated more quickly than previous ones and that “it is those vaccinated and those who have been cured of covid are likely to be infected or reinfected.”

Tedros also explained it was better to cancel the Year's End celebrations now “and celebrate life tomorrow”, than to “celebrate today and mourn tomorrow.”

“This is very serious and we are very concerned,” stressed Tedros, adding that reports that would indicate that this variant causes more moderate disease than Delta (the predominant variant worldwide) may not be representative, due to which he asked governments to exercise maximum caution in the coming weeks and avoid events with large crowds which could become super-spreaders of the virus.

On December 31, it will be two years since the WHO received the first notification of cases of pneumonia of an unknown type detected in China, which turned out to be caused by a new coronavirus that has so far caused 5.5 million deaths and 272 millions of cases around the world.

In terms of infections and deaths, the second year of the pandemic was worse than the first, since in the last twelve months deaths rose to 3.3 million, which exceeds the accumulated deaths from malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS worldwide.

Tedros argued that if the world wants to end the acute phase of the pandemic in 2022, the problem of inequality between countries must be resolved in terms of access to the tools that exist to stop COVID-19, including vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments. He added that the common goal should be for 70% of the population of each country to be vaccinated by mid-2022.

The WHO experts said they are not against booster doses against covid or deny the role they have, but recalled that the decision of rich countries to offer them to their entire adult population works against the groups of risk in poor countries may have access to vaccines for a first or second dose.

According to the WHO, 80% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are people who have been vaccinated, while studies continue to show that there is a reduction in immunity among vaccinated people for around six months. “At the moment, we think that the booster vaccine should be for people with weak immune systems, for the elderly,” said WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan.

Omicron has surprised scientists among other things because it was not thought that a more transmissible variant than Delta could appear and because it does not come from a mutation of the latter, but from another lineage, which shows that “this virus is unpredictable.”

”We cannot predict the next variant, but for sure (the virus) will continue to evolve and in the face of this, the only thing we can do is stop transmission,” Swaminathan stressed.

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