WHO says it’s ‘highly unlikely’ that existing vaccines will fail against Omicron

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Here’s some slightly good news: according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Omicron variant currently causing panic around the world does not appear to cause more severe disease than previous COVID-19 variants. As per PhilStarLife, it is also highly unlikely that Omicron will fully dodge vaccine protections. 

While a lot remains to be known about Omicron, preliminary data indicated it did not make people sicker than Delta and other strains.

“The preliminary data doesn’t indicate that this is more severe. In fact, if anything, the direction is towards less severity,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said in an interview, insisting though that more research was needed. “It’s very early days, we have to be very careful how we interpret that signal.”

At the same time, Ryan explained that said there was no sign that Omicron could fully sidestep protections provided by existing COVID vaccines. “We have highly effective vaccines that have proved effective against all the variants so far, in terms of severe disease and hospitalization,” the 56- year-old epidemiologist and former trauma surgeon said.

“There’s no reason to expect that it wouldn’t be so” for Omicron, he said, pointing to early data from South Africa where the variant was first detected that “suggest the vaccine at least is holding up in protection terms.”

However, Ryan did acknowledge it was possible that the existing vaccines might prove less effective against Omicron, which counts more than 30 mutations on the spike protein that dots the surface of the coronavirus and allows it to invade cells.

In the fight against all kinds of COVID-19 variants, he said that the best existing weapon is to get vaccinated. The same COVID-19 measures should be followed for everyone’s safety.

Art Daniella Sison

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