The Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO) Soumya Swaminathan has urged people “not to panic” over the emergence of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant first discovered by scientists in South Africa on 24th November and said that it was oversoon to say if the world’s current jabs would need to be reworked.
While speaking at the Reuters Next Virtual Global Conference on Friday, Swaminathan said it was improbable to predict if the new variant would become the dominant strain because of its high transmissibility. Moreover, WHO’s chief scientist said it was too soon to say whether the new COVID transformation is milder than other transformations that caused COVID and cast uncertainty over its origin, articulating, it was far from certain that it emerged in Africa’s southern region.
It’s likely that Omicron became the dominant variant of COVID-19, according to Swaminathan, adding that it was though impossible to foresee. The highly contagious Delta variant now accounts for 99 percent of the cases worldwide.
In addition, the scientists in Australia and European Union are foretelling that the new variant might account for more cases than Delta in the coming few months. She also said that the new variant was highly infectious and mentioned data from South Africa displaying the number of infections doubling daily.
In an interview, Swaminathan said that how concerned should they be. They need to be prepared and careful, not panic, because they’re in a different situation to a year before. She said that the U.N. health agency couldn’t at this stage say that the new variant was a mild coronavirus variant, even if numerous cases until now have been linked with less severe or no symptoms at all.
WHO “Technical Advisory Group” to Determine If New Vaccine Required
Omicron has now been found in at least thirty-eight countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas and has reached 7 of the 9 South African provinces where it was first discovered. As a result, many administrations have tightened travel restrictions to keep the new variant out.
Omicron latest: Looks more transmissible than delta. Likely to become dominant strain. Can re-infect those who had delta recently. Can infect fully vaccinated. Unsure if vaccines protect against severe infection but likely. Priority: vaccinate & slow impact on NHS over winter.
— Prof. Devi Sridhar (@devisridhar) December 3, 2021
Soumya Swaminathan said the fact that they weren’t getting sick, that means the jabs are still providing protection, and they’d hope to continue to provide protection.
World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist was cautious about the requirement to improve current jabs, noting that an additional dose of present jabs might provide enough protection. She added that it is probable that the jabs would work, and it is also possible that people might need primarily a booster shot to boost their immunity. The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of WHO is trying to determine if a new vaccine be needed against Omicron.
The WHO’s Technical Lead on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that a backlog of the virus sequences had built up last month, meaning some of the earliest infectious might yet be found outside southern Africa.
On Friday, the number of coronavirus cases crossed 3M in South Africa as new daily cases driven by the SARS-CoV-2 new variant increased sharply, according to the official numbers. Moreover, 16055 new infections were recorded in a day reporting cycle, taking the confirmed cases to more than three million.