Omicron spreading at an unprecedented rate: WHO
The World Health Organization commented on the importance of being cautious against Omicron, the 'jab gap,' and other matters.
Omicron, the new Coronavirus variant, is spreading at an unprecedented rate, according to the World Health Organization on Tuesday, urging countries to act fast to limit the transmission of the variant and protect health systems.
Since being detected in South Africa last month, the Omicron variant has been reported in 77 countries, according to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Omicron is a heavily-mutated variant that can be transmitted at a fast rate.
Ghebreyesus continued, "The reality is that Omicron is probably in most countries, even if it hasn't been detected yet... Omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant."
Abdi Mahamud, a WHO expert, said in a press conference that some countries in Europe can, very soon, witness Omicron to be the dominant variant.
Tedros warned against "dismissing Omicron as mild," saying that even if Omicron does cause less severe sickness, the high number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems.
He called on countries to use all possible measures to contain the spread, including scaling up vaccination, encouraging mask-wearing, and physical distancing.
First death in the UK
Yesterday, the United Kingdom announced its first death by Omicron variant.
As of Monday, the UK acknowledged 54,661 new coronavirus cases and 38 deaths within 28 days since a positive test; however, Javid believed that daily infections are around 200,000, confirming that there are 4,713 cases with the Omicron variant.
According to the Health Secretary, Omicron will become the dominant variant in the UK within the next 48 hours, taking into consideration that 44% of all London cases, as of today, are Omicron.
Vaccine apartheid 2.0
As Omicron becomes an international threat, developing and developed countries alike are seeking ways to contain the pandemic.
However, with the 'vaccine apartheid' which has spilled from the past year onto today, there will be an abysmal 'jab gap' between high-income countries and low-income countries.
Although it has been predicted that there will be at least a billion-vaccine surplus by the end of 2021, recently, Covax announced that it will not be able to satisfy the vaccine needs of developing countries, which have only vaccinated some 0.5% of their populations.
Today, Tuesday, Tedros pointed out that 41 countries have yet to vaccinate even 10 percent of their populations.
Commenting on boosters, he said there was not yet enough data to show a third dose is needed to effectively protect healthy adults against the variant, continuing to say that "as we move forward, boosters could play an important role."
Pfizer recommends the booster
Pfizer said Wednesday a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine could offer vital protection against the new Omicron variant.
The pharmaceutical company underscored that the initial two doses appear to be drastically less effective. Pfizer-BioNTech said two doses might not offer protection sufficient enough to prevent infection. However, according to the partners, lab tests showed a booster shot increased by 25 times the level of anti-virus antibodies in the host against the Omicron variant.
Blood samples taken a month after people received a booster shot showed they harbored levels of Omicron-fighting antibodies similar to those proven protective against predecessor COVID-19 variants after the two initial doses.
Pfizer announced its findings in a press release, and in the meantime, they are preliminary and haven't undergone any scientific review yet.