WHO warns on vaccine hoarding as EMA finds Omicron ‘mostly mild’

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The WHO fears richer nations might hoard treasured vaccine doses because the Omicron variant spreads. AFP
  • The WHO fears that wealthy nations might hoard Covid-19 vaccine jabs because the Omicron variant continues to unfold. 
  • The EMA additionally confirmed the WHO discovering that the Omicron variant might trigger milder illness. 
  • The EU medicines watchdog nonetheless stated the investigations are at the moment underway. 

THE HAGUE: The EU medicines watchdog stated Thursday the Omicron variant of Covid-19 might trigger milder illness, because the World Well being Group warned in opposition to a re-run of vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations as the brand new pressure spreads.

The tentative judgement from the European Medicines Company comes after the WHO stated this week there was some proof that Omicron causes much less extreme illness than Delta, the at the moment dominant variant.

The EMA echoed the discovering however stated extra investigation was being executed.

“Circumstances look like principally gentle, nonetheless we have to collect extra proof to find out whether or not the spectrum of illness severity attributable to Omicron is totally different (to) that of all of the variants which were circulating up to now,” stated Marco Cavaleri, EMA’s head of organic well being threats and vaccines technique.

The extremely mutated variant first detected in South Africa sparked world panic when it emerged final month, prompting fears it may very well be extra contagious, trigger extra extreme sickness or evade vaccines.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday stated that “rising knowledge from South Africa suggests elevated danger of reinfection with Omicron”.

Cavaleri stated that early knowledge instructed Omicron is extra infectious than Delta, but it surely was not yr clear whether or not it will exchange the older dominant pressure.

He additionally pressured that there have been higher technique of prevention and therapy obtainable than final winter.

The feedback come after Pfizer and BioNTech stated Wednesday {that a} third dose of their vaccine was efficient in opposition to the variant, and that it was creating an Omicron-specific jab that ought to be obtainable by March.

– Hoarding fears –

Some rich international locations like Germany and Britain are already hard-hit by a winter wave of infections.

Within the UK, Tottenham soccer’s sport at Brighton on Sunday was postponed because of “a big variety of constructive COVID-19 circumstances amongst gamers and related workers” on the north London membership.

Each Berlin and London have imposed new measures to manage the virus’ unfold, and fears of the financial affect have been dogging monetary markets.

That prompted the WHO on Thursday to warning in opposition to the restrictions on vaccine provide seen earlier this yr.

“As we head into regardless of the Omicron state of affairs goes to be, there’s a danger that the worldwide provide is once more going to revert to high-income international locations hoarding vaccine to guard (their populations)… in a way in extra,” stated WHO vaccines chief Kate O’Brien.

O’Brien stated the WHO was inspecting knowledge from Pfizer and BioNTech concerning the booster shot, and that it might end up that “extra doses have profit to supply added safety in opposition to Omicron”, however pressured it was nonetheless “very early days”.

The EMA’s Cavaleri additionally stated that “at this stage we would not have sufficient knowledge”.

The company stated later Thursday that Covid boosters are “secure and efficient” three months after the final jab.

The UN well being physique’s Africa department stated in the meantime that detections of latest coronavirus circumstances had nearly doubled over the previous week, to 107,000, as the brand new variant “is reaching extra international locations in Africa”.

The largest surge in numbers — 140 p.c on common — was within the south of the continent.

Nevertheless, in South Africa, which found the brand new variant final month, “extreme circumstances stay low”, the WHO stated.

It nonetheless referred to as on international locations to step up vaccinations — solely 7.eight p.c of the continent’s roughly 1.2 billion individuals have been jabbed.

That compares with over 600 million doses administered in Europe alone, in line with EMA figures.