Vaccines protect against severe Omicron sickness: WHO

14 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
Vaccines protect against severe Omicron sickness: WHO

The Herald

Health Reporter

The World Health Organisation Technical Advisory Group on Covid-19 Vaccine Composition has reported that while the vaccines in common use are not so effective in stopping infection by the Omicron variant, they do provide good protection against severe sickness and death.

Omicron is the variant of concern with the largest number of mutations.

There are five variants of concern.

The group said more data on vaccine effectiveness, particularly against hospitalisation, severe disease and death was needed.

“Vaccines that have received WHO emergency use listing, across several vaccine platforms, provide a high level of protection against severe disease and death caused by variants of                                    concern.

“For the Omicron variant, the mutational profile and preliminary data indicate that vaccine effectiveness will be reduced against symptomatic disease caused by the Omicron variant, but protection against severe disease is more likely to be preserved,” a preliminary report said.

Since its emergence, the Covid virus has continued to evolve and WHO has designated five variants of concern; Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron.

The Omicron has been the fastest spreading strain, with millions of cases being reported across the world as many countries, including Zimbabwe, set new records for daily Covid cases.

WHO expect the virus to continue evolving and the Omicron unlikely to be the last variant of concern.

Vaccine manufacturers should urgently develop vaccines that have high impact on prevention of infection and transmission, in addition to the prevention of severe disease and death, the group recommended, noting that present vaccines could be updated.

The advisory team said a change in vaccine composition would ensure that vaccines continue to meet the criteria established in WHO’s Target Product Profile for Covid-19 vaccines, including protection against severe disease and improved vaccine-induced protection.

They said vaccines needed to be based on strains that are genetically and antigenically close to the circulating variants and are more effective in protection against infection thus lowering community transmission and the need for stringent and broad-reaching public health and social measures.

The vaccines also need to elicit immune responses that are broad, strong, and long-lasting in order to reduce the need for successive booster doses.

Globally, the week ending January 9, 2022 saw the new weekly Covid-19 cases increase by 55 percent translating to over 15 million new cases across the world.

Although Zimbabwe has been recording a reduction in the new Covid cases as the Omicron wave retreats,infection levels of around a 1 00o a day are still high and the death rates tend to be stuck on a plateau.

On Tuesday, 765 new cases and 21 deaths were reported bringing the number of active cases to 18 604.

Since March 2020, when the first Covid case was reported, the country has recorded 223 765 cases, 199 960 recoveries and 5 201 deaths.

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