The leading US epidemiologist says early data from the new variant does not indicate a significant degree of risk.
Initial indications of the severity of the Omicron COVID-19 variant are ‘somewhat encouraging’ but more information is still needed, according to the leading US epidemiological advisor. Dr. Anthony Fauci.
On Sunday, Fauci said in an interview with CNN that “Omicron has a transmission advantage” in South Africa, where the variant was first reported, noting that the country had a low level of cases before it saw “a nearly vertical spike upwards, which is something… Almost exclusive “Omicron”.
“Although it is too early to make any definitive statements on the matter, so far it does not appear that there is a significant degree of risk,” he said. “So far, the signs are a bit encouraging.”
Medical experts have stressed in recent days that the South African population is turning young and that more serious cases may emerge in the coming weeks.
Laboratory tests are underway to determine whether Omicron – a highly mutated strain of the virus – is more transmissible than other strains, immune-resistant from vaccination and infection or more severe, with results expected within weeks.
Omicron in 30% of the US states
Meanwhile, US health officials said the variant has spread to about a third of US states, but the delta version remains the majority of COVID-19 cases nationwide.
At least 15 US states have reported Omicron cases: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, according to a tally published by Reuters news agency. an agency.
Many of the cases were among fully vaccinated individuals with mild symptoms, although the booster vaccine status of some patients is not known.
“I think there’s a real risk that we’re going to see a decrease in the efficacy of vaccines,” Stephen Hogg, president of vaccine production company Moderna, told ABC News.
“What I don’t know is how important that is,” Huge added. “Will it be the kind of thing we saw with the delta variant, which in the end the vaccines were still effective, or would we see a 50 percent drop in efficacy, which means we need to restart the vaccines.”
Moderna, like other drug companies, including Pfizer, has already begun work on adapting its vaccines if needed.
Omicron variant cases confirmed so far In about 40 countries.
COVID-19 vaccine makers are looking to quickly adjust their shots to target Omicron and US regulators have promised quick reviews, but that could take months.
Moderna said it may seek US approval for an updated vaccine as soon as possible in March, but company officials said in televised interviews Sunday that ramping up production will take some time.
US government officials are also working with vaccine makers Pfizer Inc and Johnson & Johnson on updated screenshots.
Last week, the United States imposed a travel ban on South Africa and seven other countries in South Africa to stem the spread of the virus.
Fauci said on Sunday he hoped the restrictions would be lifted “within a very reasonable period of time.”