The event comes as a senior World Well being Group (WHO) epidemiologist repeated the company’s message that nations couldn’t “enhance” their method out of the pandemic, whereas the Omicron variant was transmitting so “intensely”, simply because the Delta variant has achieved.
“Within the context of intense social mixing, within the context of restricted use of confirmed public well being measures, within the context of restricted vaccination protection globally…these are situations that may permit any variant, any virus, to thrive,” Dr Maria Van Kerkhove instructed BBC radio. “Omicron is profiting from that, and so is Delta.”
Earlier than the vacation interval, 128 nations reported that that they had recognized Omicron, the WHO stated, throughout a scheduled press briefing in Geneva.
WHO epidemiologist Dr Abdi Mahamud, instructed journalists that there was nonetheless not sufficient information obtainable to say whether or not the Omicron variant is much less extreme than different coronavirus strains.
He famous that in London, which has been “hit very laborious” by spiking numbers of COVID-19 infections, hospitalisation charges have been round 20 per cent decrease now than that they had been in 2020, earlier than vaccinations have been obtainable.
“So the principle message is, if you’re vaccinated, you’re protected, however if you’re susceptible or if in case you have not been vaccinated, this Omicron – nonetheless gentle or delicate it might be for others – it may hit you very laborious,” he stated. “So, vaccination (is) very important.”
The WHO epidemiologist famous that an growing variety of research appeared to indicate that the Omicron variant appeared to have an effect on principally the higher respiratory tract, inflicting milder signs.
Different strains impression the lungs, and will trigger extreme pneumonia, he stated, however additional analysis was wanted to show this Omicron evaluation.
“The problem has not been the vaccine, however the vaccination of essentially the most susceptible populations,” he stated, earlier than urging extra nations to push for 70 per cent vaccine protection as quickly as potential.
With out this degree of vaccine safety, the virus “replicates in an surroundings that’s overcrowded, not ventilated and never vaccinated”, Dr Mahamud continued, describing most of these settings as very best locations for COVID-19 to mutate.
“We noticed it in Beta, we noticed it in Delta, we noticed it in Omicron, so it’s within the international curiosity” to vaccinate 70 per cent of nationwide populations to scale back the impression of the variant, he stated.
© UNICEF/Srishti Bhardwaj
WHO’s name for vaccine fairness just isn’t new and comes as many rich nations think about providing a fourth coronavirus vaccine to their populations.
Earlier than Christmas, WHO Director-Basic Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that “blanket booster programmes” have been prone to lengthen the pandemic “by diverting provide to nations that have already got excessive ranges of vaccination protection, giving the virus extra alternative to unfold and mutate”.
The WHO chief pressured that the precedence have to be on supporting nations to vaccinate 40 per cent of their populations as shortly as potential, and 70 per cent by the center of 2022.