The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed this Monday that there is robust evidence that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or those who have been infected in the past can contract the omicron variant, whose spread is accelerating day by day. day around the world.
Two doses or a previous infection barely prevents infection with omicron, according to data from the United Kingdom
In an exclusive press conference for the international press in Geneva, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the information being analyzed about omicron indicates that this variant circulates faster than the previous ones and that ” those vaccinated and those who have been cured of COVID are likely to become infected or reinfected. ”
The person in charge has called everyone to become aware of this situation a few days before the end of the year festivities, pointing out that it is better to cancel the celebrations now “and celebrate life tomorrow”, than to “celebrate today and be in mourning. morning”.
“This is very serious and we are very concerned (about omicron),” said Tedros, who added that the information indicating that this variant causes a more moderate disease than delta (the predominant variant worldwide) may not be representative. .
For this reason, he has asked governments to exercise maximum caution in the coming weeks and avoid events with the presence of many people and that could become super-spreaders of the virus.
Two years from the first cases
On December 31, it will be two years since the WHO received the first notification of cases of pneumonia of an unknown type detected in China, which turned out to be caused by a new coronavirus that has so far caused 5.5 million deaths and 272 millions of cases around the world.
In terms of infections and deaths, the second year of the pandemic was worse than the first, since in the last 12 months deaths rose to 3.3 million, which exceeds the accumulated deaths from malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS at the national level. world.
Tedros argues that if the world wants to end the acute phase of the pandemic in 2022, the problem of inequality between countries must be resolved in terms of access to the tools that exist to curb COVID-19, including vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments.
He argues that the common goal should be that by the middle of next year 70% of the population of each country will have been vaccinated.
WHO experts say they are not against COVID booster doses or deny the role they play, but remember that the decision of rich countries to offer them to their entire adult population works against groups of risk in poor countries may have access to vaccines for a first or second dose.
80% of the patients hospitalized by COVID are people who have been vaccinated, according to the data collected by the organization in the international arena.
How often a COVID vaccine will have to be received constitutes one of the big questions at this stage of the pandemic, to which the WHO still cannot answer, although it has advanced that this will depend on a series of factors, such as the type vaccine, since its effectiveness differs slightly from one product to another.
Other factors will be the future variants that appear and the individual’s own biology (age, underlying health problems and state of his immune system).
Studies continue to show that there is a reduction in immunity among vaccinated people for around six months. “At the moment, we think that the booster vaccine should be for people with weak immune systems, for the elderly,” says WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan.
Ómicron has surprised scientists among other things because it was not thought that a more transmissible variant than delta could appear and because it does not come from a mutation of the latter, but from another lineage, which shows that “this virus is unpredictable.” “We cannot predict the next variant, but surely (the virus) will continue to evolve and in the face of this, the only thing we can do is stop transmission.”