The new strain of Covid-19 Omicron has attracted worldwide attention since its discovery. If the uncertainty surrounding its virulence persists, WHO scientists hope to be reassuring on Tuesday to confirm that there is “no reason to doubt” the effectiveness of the vaccine.
It was officially reported in South Africa on November 24 that the new Omicron variant has appeared on all continents. According to the World Health Organization, 57 countries have reported cases. in Europe, It has been found in 19 countries, According to the latest data. Several countries, including France, have taken measures to try to limit its spread in their territories.
On November 27, the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome produced and released the first three-dimensional image of this new variant, showing that it contains about 30 mutations in the “spike” protein, which is the key to the virus entering the disease. This number is much higher than the Delta variant, which attracted the attention of the World Health Organization, which was classified as “worrying” at the end of November.
Prima foto al mondo della variant #Omi Keron realizzata nell’area di Ricerca di Medicina Multimodale del Bambino Gesù. Mostra la struttura della proteina spike della variant Omicron a destra e Delta a sinistra rispetto alla spike original SARS CoV-2 #安莎 https://t.co/PtV3nk137S
-Ansa News Agency (@Agenzia_Ansa) November 27, 2021
However, White House health crisis adviser Anthony Fauci assured on Tuesday that the “almost certain” variant of Omicron will not cause more severe Covid-19 cases than Delta. As far as WHO scientists are concerned, they are calm about the effectiveness of current vaccines against serious forms that may cause this strain.
>>”Covid-19: The Omicron variant is not necessarily more dangerous than the Delta variant”
Researchers around the world are still trying to understand how it works and its potential impact on the Covid-19 pandemic.
In order to assess the understanding of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (Sars-Cov-2) virus, France interviewed Michelle, a Belgian physician and immunologist, director and co-founder of the Institute of Health Interdisciplinary Innovation at Liberty University, on the 24th. Professor Michel Goldman Brussels.
France 24: How much do we know about the infectivity and virulence of Omicron variants at this stage?
Michelle Goldman: This variant is obviously more contagious. It is easier to spread from one person to another. However, we do not yet know what symptoms it causes, because the only data we have is data collected for young people, especially in South Africa. In addition, we do not have enough factors to determine whether it may cause serious cases. Except for the elderly with comorbidities, we can already foresee the fact that it can induce serious forms like deltas.
One of the important questions is what will happen to young people and children. We don’t have any information yet, but it will be very important to monitor it, because so far children have been the medium of transmission, but basically they have not been affected by serious forms of disease. Before we get more information, people who have already received the third dose of vaccine and are eligible for the third dose must receive the third dose because this new strain may be less sensitive to the vaccine. The previous variant. For those who have not made a vaccine choice, I think the unknown of this variant should encourage them to do so, so as not to regret later, especially the most vulnerable individuals.
Is the current Covid-19 vaccine effective enough for Omicron variants?
Known from the Delta variants, these mutations that increase the ability to spread from one person to another should accelerate vaccination. We also know that, thanks to Delta, in addition to greater infectivity, there is undoubtedly another feature of the Omicron variant, which is more resistant to vaccines.
Therefore, even if the vaccine continues to protect the severe form, and it is believed that Omicron’s situation is the same as Delta’s situation, it may be much less effective in reducing transmission. However, it will still be like this, because vaccination can work in many ways. On the one hand, the antibodies it induces recognize different regions of the protein (targets of the vaccine), some of which will not mutate. On the other hand, vaccines not only act on antibodies, but also on lymphocytes. Lymphocytes have different recognition systems and are therefore less sensitive to mutations.
It cannot be ruled out that a new vaccine should be designed for this new strain. The question that arises today is whether we should regard Omicron as a variant with a greater degree of mutation than before, or whether we should not regard it as a new virus at all. We don’t know this yet.
It is not ruled out, but at present we are not certain about this issue. There are two main theories. The first is that this variant originated from subjects who have a weakened immune system and therefore carry the virus for a long time. After two to three weeks, the virus usually disappears from the body, but in individuals with low immune function, it can last for a long time, so it can function as a “mutation incubator”. The virus is in an environment where it cannot be controlled and allows it to continue to reproduce and mutate as a result. If this theory is correct, as we know, immunocompromised subjects respond poorly to the vaccine, or sometimes no response at all, then there is nothing to say that more widespread vaccination will prevent the emergence of this mutation. The second theory attributes its appearance to an animal species that will acquire Sars-Cov-2, just like the original Covid-19 virus. Today, in order to protect yourself as much as possible, all you have to do is get vaccinated. There is currently no reason to minimize or dramatize this new variant. There is no evidence that more serious forms exist, and we can even hope for less. The answer must be reached quickly within a few weeks.