WHO calls for calm approach to omicron variation of COVID, warns travel restrictions could undermine surveillance and tracing

The World Health Organization called for a calm, measured approach to the new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 on Tuesday, warning against travel restrictions that could lead to impairment of surveillance and tracking.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing at the agency’s World Health Assembly that the global response to the variant called omicron was classified last Friday as a “worrying variant” must be “calm, coordinated and coherent.”

The variant, reported last week by scientists in South Africa, has more mutations than any previous variant and testing must now be conducted to determine if it is contagious. are more transmissible, more lethal, or more resistant to currently available vaccines and treatments. News of its discovery was immediately greeted with a travel ban on flights from South Africa and the neighboring countries of the US, UK, EU and other individual countries.

Read: The world must plan now if we hope to prevent another pandemic as deadly and destructive as COVID-19

“I thank Botswana and South Africa for discovering, sorting and reporting this variant so quickly,” said Tedros.

Tedros also acknowledged that there are now more questions than answers about omicrons and urged patience. He also pointed to the fact that many wealthy countries lacked initial supplies of the vaccine, leaving Africa and elsewhere vulnerable to new variants.

See: Facebook, Wells Fargo closely monitor omicron ahead of planned return to office in January 2022

In related news, Dutch health authorities said on Tuesday that omicron was in the Netherlands when South Africa notified WHO of it last week, as the Associated Press reported.

The Netherlands’ RIVM health institute found omicrons in samples dating to November 19 and 23, WHO said South Africa first reported the variant to the United Nations health agency on November 24. November.

Do not miss: Here’s what we know about the COVID omicron variant – and what we didn’t know

Authorities in the eastern German city of Leipzig say they have confirmed an omicron variant infection in a 39-year-old man, who has neither been abroad nor in contact with anyone who has been infected. infected, AP reported, citing sources from the dpa news agency. Leipzig, located in the eastern state of Saxony, currently has the highest overall rate of coronavirus infections in Germany.

Japan and France announced the first cases of the new variant on Tuesday.

Existing Variations has been detected in more than a dozen countries. Despite global anxiety, doctors in South Africa say patients have mostly had mild symptoms so far. But they caution that it is early and most new cases are in people in their 20s and 30s, who don’t usually get sick from COVID-19 like older patients.

Scientists and vaccine manufacturers are investigating Omicron, a variant of Covid-19 with about 50 mutations, which has been detected in many countries after spreading in southern Africa. Here’s what we know as the US and others implement travel restrictions. Photo: Fazry Ismail / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock


Executive Director Stéphane Bancel told the Financial Times There is no world in which current vaccines are as effective as they have been against the delta variant. And he suggests that the drop could be significant.

“I think it will be a material drop. I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for data. But all the scientists I spoke to. . . like, ‘This isn’t going to be good’. “

Moderna previously announced that data on the vaccine’s ability to neutralize the omicron variant should be expected within weeks as it works to rapidly present a potentiating candidate specifically against the variant. this.

In other medical news, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

President and Chief Medical Officer George Yancopoulos told the Wall Street Journal that his company’s antibody treatment was ineffective against omicrons based on initial tests. The full impact will only be known in the coming weeks after further testing, he said.

Separate testing for antibodies by Eli Lilly & Co. develop.

showed that it was also less effective for omicrons. Some antibody therapies are potentially vulnerable to omicrons, the researchers say, because they contain mutations to the mutant protein that the drugs Regeneron and Lilly target, while other drugs would work. good because they attack elements of the virus that do not change in the variant.

Yancopoulos said the company is working on alternative antibodies that are more resistant to the variant. “What we have to admit is that over the last six days our urgency has increased,” Dr. Yancopoulos said in an interview. “What started as a backup plan has now been made much more urgent.”

His comments came as an advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration met to discuss Merck’s.

antiretroviral therapy for high-risk patients and vote on whether to take it.

Antiviral drugs are thought to be a game changer in fighting COVID, as they can be taken at home, while all other existing treatments must be administered by intravenous infusion. skin in the clinical setting.

The US continues to have more than 880 COVID deaths per day on average, according to a New York Times follower,, and cases and hospitalizations are on the rise again. Michigan continues to lead on a per capita basis, with cases in the state averaging more than 8,000 per day.

NS The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Tracker, meanwhile, nearly 197 million people living in the US are fully immunized, or 59.3% of the total population. That number has barely budged for several weeks, even as the booster program has already begun with 40.2 million people injected with the supplement.

In other news, Greece will impose monthly fines on citizens over 60 years of age who do not receive a COVID-19 vaccine, in the latest effort to stem the spread and effects of the pandemic and protect vulnerable people. hurt as the holidays draw near, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

China, which has one of the strictest “zero-COVID” policies in the world, said the Winter Olympics will go ahead as planned, despite the uncertainty surrounding the omicron, Reuters reported. Beijing will host the Games from February 4 to February 20, without foreign spectators and with all the athletes and staff involved contained in a “closed loop” and must daily check for COVID-19.

The German Constitutional Court has ruled that a partial government shutdown is legal, Deutsche Welle reported. In two separate rulings, the court determined that a curfew, contact restrictions and school closures were allowed, dismissing the complaints filed by the protesters.

President Biden said Monday that his administration is working with officials at Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for vaccines or boosters in case they are needed. against the Omicron variant. Photo: Oliver Contreras / Bloomberg

Latest Tallies

The global tally of the disease caused by the coronavirus rose above 2623 million on Monday, while the death toll rose above 5.21 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The US continues to lead the world with a total of 48.4 million cases and 778,667 deaths.

India ranks second in the number of cases after the US with 34.6 million people and 468,980 deaths. Brazil has the second highest death toll with 614,376 and 22.1 million cases.

In Europe, Russia has the most deaths with 269,900 deaths, followed by the UK with 145,254 people.

China, where the virus was first detected in late 2019, there have been 111,258 confirmed cases and 4,809 deaths, which, according to its official figures, are believed to be mass.

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