Covid: vaccines’ effectiveness, severe disease… The WHO intends to reassure about the Omicron variant

Published by Caroline J. · Published on 8 December 2021 at 11h08
As many countries are making more health measures to face the Omicron variant, the OMS tries to reassure. According to one of the Organization seniors who spoke to the AFP, there is “no reason” to think the current vaccines do not protect against the variant found for the first time in South Africa. Furthermore, the Omicron does not “cause more severe illness”.

Since the Omicron variant has been discovered in South Africa in late November, many countries have decided to harshened their border restrictions. Others have not thought twice and closed their borders. But what do we know exactly about this new variant? Is it less or more dangerous than the Delta variant? And what about the effectiveness of the current vaccines? In an interview with the AFP on Tuesday December 7, 2021, WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan intended to reassure about the effectiveness of Covid vaccines currently given. “We have highly effective vaccines that have proved effective against all the variants so far, in terms of severe disease and hospitalization... There's no reason to expect that it wouldn't be so” for Omicron, he explained.

To prove his sayings, the WHO director relies on the preliminary data from South Africa. The latter “wouldn't indicate that we will have a catastrophic loss of efficacy”, Ryan explained.

As for the hazardous nature of the Omicron variant, the epidemiologist is willing to reassure. “The preliminary data doesn't indicate that this is more severe. In fact, if anything, the direction is towards less severity”, he explained.

But the WHO emergencies director considered there were more risks to be reinfected with the Omicron variant. “There is some evidence to suggest that reinfection with Omicron is more common than it was with previous waves or previous variants”, he said.

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On Tuesday December 7, Top US scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci also intended to address the Omicron variant in a reassuring fashion. “It almost certainly is not more severe than Delta”, he said during his phone interview with the AFP. “There is some suggestion that it might even be less severe", he added.

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