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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday raised the alarm that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading faster than the Delta variant and is causing infections in people already vaccinated or who have recovered from the COVID-19 disease.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Monday it would be ‘unwise’ to conclude from early evidence that Omicron is a milder variant than previous ones.
Speaking to some Geneva-based journalists yesterday, Soumya Swaminathan stated that ‘with the numbers going up, all health systems are going to be under strain.’
She warned that South Africa and other places reporting lower hospitalisation rates from Omicron had been hit hard in earlier waves, so many of the Omicron cases may have been reinfections.
‘The variant may be behaving differently in people with prior immunity,’ she said.
The variant is successfully evading some immune responses, she said, meaning that the booster programmes being rolled out in many countries ought to be targeted towards people with weaker immune systems.
‘There is now consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant,’ WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the briefing.
‘And it is more likely people vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 could be infected or re-infected,’ Tedros said.
Meanwhile, Africa Daily News, New York gathered that the world health body has approved the Covovax vaccine for Emergency Use Listing (EUL), elevating to nine the number of immunisations approved to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The vaccine is produced by the Serum Institute of India, under licence from Novavax, and will now be part of the COVAX facility portfolio, boosting efforts to vaccinate more people in lower-income countries.
Dr. Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, said that ‘even with new variants emerging, vaccines remain one of the most effective tools to protect people against serious illness and death from SARS-COV-2.’
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK