CNIPH Publishes Press Release on Omicron, New Covid Variant of Concern

Lauren Simmonds

Updated on:

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Omicron, the new coronavirus variant is currently being considered potentially more dangerous because it has almost twice as many mutations as the Delta variant. Variant B.1.1.529, named Omicron, was declared a cause for concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday, placing it in the same category as the Delta variant, they said.

”Variant B 1.1.529 has more than 30 mutations on its spike protein alone. If these mutations are seen as a new possibility of increased infectivity and transmissibility, which gives the virus a greater ability to bypass immunity, both from vaccination and acquired, then it is a very complex variant with mutations that haven’t been previously recorded, so it is difficult to predict the implications for the course of the pandemic and immunity. Nevertheless, experts believe that vaccines will continue to offer a high level of protection against the severe clinical picture that leads to hospitalisations and death,” they stated.

They pointed out that the new variant is most often found in younger people (ages 18 to 34), and it is in these age groups that the lowest vaccination rate in the Republic of South Africa was recorded.

”British experts emphasise the need for vaccination based on reports received from South Africa, according to which a larger number of hospitalisations are recorded in groups of unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated persons. In addition, vaccine manufacturers have expressed the view that they will be able to quickly adapt their vaccines to the Omicron variant,” they wrote.

The CNIPH also stated that the European Commission (EC) is proposing a procedure for a coordinated approach in limiting the spread of new variants within and across the EU.

”From an EU perspective, the emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 remain a cause for concern and should be closely monitored. In order to obtain timely and accurate information on the origin and circulation of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern or interest, it is essential that EU member states maintain or achieve a sufficiently high range of sequencing. Such a coordinated approach should include circumstances in which member states impose restrictions on movement for certain areas where the epidemiological situation is expected to deteriorate rapidly, and especially for areas that are currently seriously affected by the epidemic,” the CNIPH said.

”In conclusion, this is a real reminder that the pandemic is far from over yet. If there’s one thing everyone can do now is this: choose your vaccine, whether it’s your first dose or second,” the CNIPH appealed in conclusion.

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