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Vaccines Effective Against Omicron: WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan

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Vaccines Effective Against Omicron: Amidst wide uncertainty about the new coronavirus variant and heightened action by states to curb the spread of Omicron, the Variant of Concern, the Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation Dr Soumya Swaminathan tweeted on if the vaccine for COVID-19 is effective against the new variant Omicron, which has higher mutation levels.

The WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said that the new variant is infecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated people across the globe. However, Dr Swaminathan believes that vaccines are important and working against Omicron as the number of Omicron cases are coming up but the severity has not “surged” to a new level.

She tweeted, “As expected, T cell community holding up better against #Omicron. This will protect us against severe diseases. Please get vaccinated if you haven’t!”

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She had reshared the post by Eric Topol which read, “Out T cells appear to be ready, willing and able to defend vs Omicron medrxiv.org/content/10.110…CD4+ and CD8+ cells hold up well in people vaccinated or prior Covid.”

At a press conference, Dr Swaminathan talked about the factors that make vaccines an effective measure against COVID-19. She said that even though the effectiveness varies from vaccine to vaccine, the ones listed under the WHO Emergency Use Listing has very high levels of protection from severe disease and death, at least up to the Delta variant.

Other than which vaccine one takes, biological factors also play an important role in how effective a vaccine is. She said that age and other illnesses make older people more vulnerable to the virus.

While emphasising the effectiveness of vaccines against Omicron, the scientist also made it clear that Omicron has broken out recently and any conclusion would be premature. Although, according to her, it is clinically seen that people who have been vaccinated or have gotten infected with COVID-19 before, “are still getting breakthrough infections.”

This is why, Dr Swaminathan said that we can see cases of Omicron rising but vaccines are protective in many countries as, despite the numbers rising, the severity of the virus has not surged to the next level.

Omicron In India

On December 29, there have been a 44 percent jump in COVID-19 cases since the new coronavirus was identified by scientists in South Africa. The rising number of cases in India reportedly may be termed as third-wave although its impact may not be as same as the first and second wave.

The University of Cambridge through a tracker developed by researchers have predicted the rise of Omicron from the last week of December. While IIT-Kanpur study states that the third wave of pandemics in India might peak by February 3, 2022. According to this study, it is predicted to start from December 15.

India has reported 13,154 new COVID-19 cases and 268 deaths in 24 hours. As per the government data, the number of Omicron cases in the country has risen to 961.