The world is panicking after the discovery of a new variant, called Omicron, in South Africa. Many countries in Europe – France included – have suspended flights from Southern Africa this Friday to limit the spread. A late decision as a case has been reported already in Belgium, according to Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke. “We have a case that is now confirmed of this variant. This is someone who came from abroad, who tested positive on November 22, who was not vaccinated”, he said.
WHO has called for an emergency meeting and is monitoring this new variant thoroughly to determine its dangerousness. It presents an “extremely high” number of mutations and is “likely to spread very quickly”, according to virologist Tulio de Oliveira. As a matter of fact, according to South-African scientists, Omicron is more contagious than the Delta variant. Already overwhelmed by the fifth wave, Europe fears this new variant deteriorates the situation even more.
The Delta variant has already cut the effectiveness of vaccines down to 40%. The resistance of Omicron to vaccine is still unknown, but the variant “might also be able to get around parts of the immune system and the protection we have in our immune system”, Pr. Richard Lessels said. Moderna has already reacted announcing they are willing to develop a specific booster shot for Omicron. A few weeks are necessary to discover the impact of the variant, mutations and virulence. In the meantime, the announce of this new variant has made the oil prices dropped in Europe, the stock exchanges and the world’s economy panic.