Omicron resistance to vaccines that are currently available is “highly unlikely”, as per Dr Mike Ryan, who is World Health Organisation’s emergencies director. During a recent interview, Ryan also said that according to available data Omicron makes people sicker than other strains of the coronavirus, including the Delta variant.
Omicron was first flagged by South Africa in the last week of November and within two days, the WHO had deemed it as a “Variant of Concern” on November 26. The strain is speculated to have emerged in Botswana, a country in the African continent. The variant alarmed scientists globally as it had close to 50 mutations, including 32 on its spike protein. Since many vaccines target this spike protein on the surface of the virus, speculations began soon on whether or not the existing lot of vaccines will be able effective against the new coronavirus variant.
Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Ryan said that there was no sign Omicron would be better at evading vaccines than other variants. “We have highly effective vaccines that have proved effective against all the variants so far, in terms of severe disease and hospitalisation,” he said, further adding that there’s no reason to expect that it wouldn’t be so for the Omicron variant.
According to Ryan, if anything, the direction is towards less severity, as data so far doesn’t suggest that Omicron makes people sicker than Delta or other variants of COVID-19 do.
This statement from WHO official comes close to findings of a study which claimed that Omicron can partially evade the immune response created by two doses of Pfizer vaccine. The study also went on to say that booster doses of the vaccine could help to fend off infection.
About Omicron variant
The Omicron variant has now spread to as many as 50 countries across the world, including many European nations like Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Portugal and France. Cases have also been detected in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia.
Despite taking swift action, the new variant also found its way to India. On December 2, India reported its first two cases, one of the patients infact, had no travel history. Since then a total of 23 cases have been detected across various states.
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