Omicron was in Europe lengthy earlier than journey bans on southern Africa

Health experts sound alarm on possible fourth wave

2021-12-01 18:52:32

The knee-jerk response adopted the information that the variant had an unusually excessive variety of mutations, which scientists feared might make it extra transmissible and lead to immune evasion.

A lot continues to be unknown about Omicron, together with its origin, severity and its transmissibility. Researchers are additionally racing to find if it might displace current variants and turn into dominant, as Delta has.

Early “indications” present that individuals who have acquired the coronavirus vaccine booster are “protected” towards the brand new variant, Israeli Well being Minister Nitzan Horowitz mentioned Tuesday.

This comes after anecdotal reviews from South Africa urged that almost all instances of the Omicron variant have been gentle to date. However these South African instances have been “largely [among] younger individuals anyway. So, I’d say we simply do not know [if the new variant causes more serious illness than previous strains],” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the Nationwide Institutes of Well being, informed CNN on Sunday.

Scientists say it should take weeks to unearth how harmful the brand new variant is. However we do know that Omicron has been present in Europe, with instances of neighborhood transmission recognized in earlier Covid-19 samples earlier than the journey bans got here into place.

Dutch well being officers mentioned Tuesday that Omicron was current within the Netherlands every week earlier than two flights arrived from South Africa carrying the virus. Not less than one of many instances is believed to have been contracted within the Netherlands, RIVM virologist Chantal Reusken informed nationwide broadcaster NOS.

9 instances of Omicron have been linked to a personal occasion on November 20 in Scotland, days earlier than South Africa introduced the existence of the variant. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon informed Scottish Parliament Tuesday that not one of the people had a latest journey historical past or identified hyperlinks to others who had traveled from southern Africa.

These instances have prompted some to query the necessity for the cascading journey restrictions, which has triggered a wave of resentment on the African continent. Many view the bans as one other instance of Africans bearing the brunt of hasty pandemic policymaking, which has seen wealthy international locations hoarding vaccine doses and sources to the detriment of poorer nations.

“Wonderful science must be applauded and never punished,” South Africa’s Overseas Ministry mentioned Saturday, including that the restrictions have been “akin to punishing South Africa for its superior genomic sequencing and the power to detect new variants faster.”

“Putting in journey bans that concentrate on Africa assaults world solidarity,” the World Well being Group’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti mentioned the next day. “Covid-19 always exploits our divisions. We are going to solely get the higher of the virus if we work collectively for options.”


Q: What raised alarms for scientists about Omicron, in comparison with different variants? 

A: Within the case of Omicron, what initially raised alarms for docs and scientists in South Africa was the speedy charge of unfold of this new variant, in response to CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. 

“It seems to be outcompeting Delta in velocity, however whether or not it should power out Delta and turn into dominant stays to be seen,” she mentioned. 

“As well as, the massive variety of this variant’s mutations — over 50 in all — raises the query of immune escape, each to vaccines and coverings like monoclonal antibodies. These are kinds of data that we might want to receive via additional scientific research,” she added. 

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Scientists say it should take weeks to inform how harmful Omicron actually is. This is why 

As quickly as South Africa introduced the unfold of a brand new and troubling variant final week, scientists went to work. By the point WHO had named the brand new lineage Omicron, a number of groups of researchers had already duplicated the work from South Africa and mapped out the genetic adjustments that made Omicron the brand new unhealthy actor of the coronavirus household, Maggie Fox reviews. 

Though a lot of these mutations have been acquainted from different variants, scientists have been nonetheless not sure whether or not they make Omicron considerably completely different from earlier variants — particularly the super-dominant Delta variant. 

However it should take weeks of testing to inform what added superpowers, if any, these mutations give Omicron. Researchers should take a look at what’s occurring in the true world by testing samples taken from sufferers, sequencing their genomes to see if it is Omicron inflicting the infections, and see if extra samples change into Omicron. 

They’re going to additionally discover whether or not Omicron infections result in extra extreme illness and if absolutely vaccinated individuals find yourself extra more likely to turn into contaminated with the Omicron variant versus different strains. 

Making Covid-19 vaccines obligatory was as soon as unthinkable. European international locations are exhibiting it could possibly work 

Earlier this month, Austria took a step as soon as unimaginable for a Western democracy: It introduced that Covid-19 vaccinations would turn into obligatory for its whole inhabitants. 

Up till then, governments world wide had rejected the concept of a common coronavirus vaccine mandate, opting as an alternative for incentives and different “nudges” to encourage individuals to get photographs. Even in authoritarian states, like China, it isn’t obligatory. 

Now, different European international locations are beginning to contemplate equally drastic measures to influence extra individuals to be inoculated, regardless of criticisms that low vaccination charges made them unrealistic and would deprive thousands and thousands from incomes a livelihood, Eliza Waterproof coat reviews. 

FDA advisers vote to suggest authorization of Merck capsule to deal with Covid-19

As fears concerning the Omicron variant mount, advisers to the US Meals and Drug Administration voted to suggest emergency use authorization of a capsule made by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to assist deal with Covid-19.

The slim 13-10 vote endorsed the remedy, known as molnupiravir, though members of the committee expressed worries about dangers to pregnant girls and several other mentioned they hoped Merck could be requested to proceed gathering security knowledge on the capsule.

If authorization is granted, the drug could be the primary oral antiviral remedy to battle Covid-19. It could scale back the relative danger somebody will progress to extreme illness or dying by about 30%. The tablets should be taken inside 5 days of the beginning of signs to do a lot good, and folks should take 4 tablets twice a day for 5 days.


There is a new variant circulating. This is what you are able to do to remain protected

Because the world waits to study extra concerning the Omicron variant, it is easy to get caught up within the unknowns. As an alternative, well being officers are reminding us of the easy but efficient instruments all of us should fight the virus.


Czech President Milos Zeman formally appointed Petr Fiala as the country's new Prime Minister on Sunday while sat in an acrylic glass box after testing positive for the coronavirus earlier last week.


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