While the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, first detected in southern Africa, continues to spread around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called on developed countries to call to order. that they do not use the vaccine doses in a privileged way to the detriment of poorer countries and where the population is less vaccinated.
“There is a risk that global stocks will once again be redirected to high-income countries who want to accumulate vaccines to protect their populations to the point of excess”, warned, Thursday, December 9, Dr. Kate O’Brien, head of the vaccination branch at the WHO.
“The only way to slow this disease is to ensure that everyone at risk is vaccinated. We are forgetting that in some countries ”, she hammered, adding that a new frenzy of vaccine buying by rich countries would only prolong the pandemic:
“If we don’t deliver vaccines to all countries, from an epidemiological point of view, it doesn’t work and it doesn’t work from a transmission point of view either. “
No scientific certainty about a third essential dose
Data is still lacking to confirm, after the appearance of the Omicron variant, that booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are essential to prevent those already vaccinated from the most serious forms of the disease.
Pfizer and BioNTech, which make one of the messenger RNA vaccines, released a preliminary study Wednesday saying it was more effective against Omicron if three doses were given instead of the two recommended for the other variants. WHO has seized the data from this study, said Mr.me O’Brien, and it could be “That additional doses allow better protection against Omicron”, she said, but “We are still only at the very beginning”. At present, the WHO only recognizes that the new variant appears to have a higher rate of reinfection in people who have been cured of the disease or who have been vaccinated, but causes less severe symptoms.
In Africa, only 7.8% of the population is fully immunized
Kate O’Brien recalled that the world was only beginning to tackle vaccine inequality, with the acceleration of donations from rich countries, notably through the Covax program, and more deliveries to countries where the rate of immunization of caregivers and vulnerable people remains well below what would be necessary.
This is particularly the case in Africa, where only 7.8% of the population are currently fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to WHO data. It is also on this continent that the Omicron variant has caused the most contamination. Africa recorded more than 107,000 new cases of Covid-19 during the week ended December 5, against 55,000 the previous week, the share of Omicron still to be determined in this increase, specifies the WHO -Africa. In southern Africa, the increase has averaged 140%.
Most, “Sign of hope”, the first data from South Africa indicate that the variant “Omicron could cause less severe forms of the disease”, specifies WHO-Africa: between November 14 and December 4, the occupancy rate of intensive care hospital beds was only 6.3%.