WHO Says No Need for Panic Over Omicron Coronavirus Strain as Much Remains Unknown
21:14 GMT 27.11.2021 (Updated: 12:53 GMT 10.11.2022)
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - There are no reasons for panic regarding the new Omicron coronavirus strain, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Russia, Melita Vujnovic, said on Saturday.
"It seems to me that there should be no panic, as we do not know yet... if this virus bypasses a vaccine, how much it will decrease effectiveness of any vaccine - we do not know this, at the moment," Vujnovic told the Soloviev Live YouTube show.
The official added that "of course, Africa does not have
enough vaccine shots, even though the South African Republic produces vaccine."
However, Vujnovic assumed that the Omicron variant might be more contagious
than other strains.
27 November 2021, 10:25 GMT
On Friday, WHO identified the new South African strain as one of concern, as it potentially may be more transmissible and dangerous. The WHO dubbed the variant Omicron, which is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.
"The new #COVID19 virus variant - Omicron - has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. This is why we need to speed up our efforts to deliver on #VaccinEquity ASAP and protect the most vulnerable everywhere," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted on Saturday.
The new Omicron variant is reported to carry a high number of mutations — 32.
Angelique Coetzee, the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, told Sputnik that Omicron results in mild disease, without prominent syndromes.
Following the reports about the new variant, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Israel, Australia and other countries have restricted travel from several southern African nations over the health concerns. South Africa has criticized the decision to ban flights as premature, saying there is not enough information on how dangerous it is.
27 November 2021, 16:28 GMT
The pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech issued a statement that they are not sure whether Omicron is able to escape their vaccine but promise to develop
a new vaccine against the variant in about 100 days.