A top official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said existing vaccines should still protect people who contract the Omicron variant from severe Covid cases.
WHO Emergencies Director Dr. Mike Ryan said the variant omicron was not showing signs of being better at evading vaccines than other variants.
“We have highly effective vaccines that have proved effective against all the variants so far, in terms of severe disease and hospitalization, and there’s no reason to expect that it wouldn’t be so” for Omicron, Dr. Ryan said.
Dr. Ryan added that initial data suggested the variant omicron did not make people sicker than the delta and other strains.
According to a small preliminary South African study released on Tuesday, the variant omicron significantly reduces antibody protection generated by Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
However, scientists believed that having a previous infection, followed by vaccination or a booster, would likely give more protection from severe disease.
Meanwhile, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said it would take a few weeks to get more definitive data on whether the current vaccines provide enough protection against the variant.
Bourla added that Pfizer can develop a vaccine that targets omicron by March 2022, if needed.
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