WHO chief scientist urges people not to panic about Omicron | Coronavirus pandemic news

The chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO) urged people not to panic about the emergence of the new coronavirus. Omicron coronavirus variant And said that it is too early to say whether the vaccine needs to be redesigned.

Soumya Swaminathan said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference on Friday that it is impossible to predict whether Omicron will become the dominant strain.

Omicron has been detected at least 38 countries It is distributed in Asia, Africa, America, Middle East and Europe, and has reached 7 out of 9 provinces in South Africa, where it was first discovered. Many governments have tightened travel regulations to prevent this variation.

Swaminathan said Omicron appears to be “highly contagious” and cited data from South Africa, which shows that the number of cases is doubling every day.

“How worried should we be? We need to be prepared and cautious, not panic, because our situation is different from a year ago,” she said.

“Delta Airlines accounts for 99% of global infections. This variant must be more communicable to stand out from the competition and dominate the world. It is possible but unpredictable.”

Many things are still unknown Omi Kron, Because parts of Europe are responding to a wave of infections in the more familiar Delta variant.

“We need to wait and let us hope it becomes more gentle… but it’s too early to draw conclusions about the entire variant,” Swaminathan said.

The WHO said on Friday that it has not seen any reports of deaths related to Omicron.

Mike Ryan, WHO’s director of emergency situations, said on Friday that there is no evidence to support changing the vaccine to adapt to Omicron.

“Now, we have effective vaccines. We need to focus on making them more equitable. We need to focus on getting the most dangerous people vaccinated,” Ryan said in a social media event.

WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said at a UN briefing in Geneva that vaccine manufacturers should be prepared for the possibility of adjusting their products.

Ugur Sahin, CEO of German BioNTech, which cooperates with Pfizer to produce the COVID vaccine, said at Reuters’ Next conference that the company should be able to adapt to vaccination relatively quickly.

Shahin also said that despite the mutations, current vaccines should continue to provide protection against serious diseases.

“I believe in principle [point in time] We will need a new vaccine against this new variant. The question is how urgent it needs to be,” Shaheen said.

Omicron was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24, and the first known laboratory confirmed case was determined from specimens collected on November 9.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s head of COVID-19 technology, said that the virus sequence was backlogged in November, which means that some of the earliest cases may not have been detected outside of South Africa.

Official data shows that the number of new infections per day caused by the Omicron variant has risen sharply, and the number of COVID-19 infections in South Africa on Friday exceeded 3 million.

On Friday, 16,055 new cases were reported in a 24-hour reporting period, bringing the total number of laboratory confirmed cases to 3,004,203.

“This increase represents a positive rate of 24.3%,” the government-run National Institute of Infectious Diseases said in a daily update.

Worrying vaccination gap

Vaccination rates vary from country to country, but there are worrying gaps in poorer countries. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world. It was once the epicenter of COVID-19 in Asia and currently only vaccinates about 35% of the population.

The head of the Red Cross said on Friday that the emergence of Omicron was “the final evidence” of the danger of inequality in vaccination rates around the world.

Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: “The scientific community has repeatedly warned the international community that in places where vaccination rates are very low, there may be very new developments. Variants.” Agence France-Presse was interviewed in Moscow.

United Nations data shows that about 65% of people in high-income countries have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, while the proportion in low-income countries is only over 7%.

Many scientists say that the way to stop the spread of the virus is to ensure that poorer countries have access to vaccines, not to provide people in richer countries with comprehensive booster shots.

According to Reuters statistics, since the coronavirus was first discovered in central China at the end of 2019, nearly 264 million people have been reported to be infected and 5.48 million people have died.

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