Covid vaccines likely to be less effective against Omicron variant: WHO

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Dec 16, 2021, 04:27 PM IST
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Image for representation Photograph:(Reuters)

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As of December 16, Omicron had been confirmed in 77 countries

Based on a preliminary study, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant— which has a higher chance of reinfection.

The WHO said further research is required to get a clearer sense of how the omicron variant may penetrate immunity gained from the vaccines, which have generally proved effective against the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

"As a result of this, the overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high," the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update on Wednesday.

WHO Director General Tedros had also echoed similar concerns stating that vaccination alone will not be enough to stop the pandemic, and that mask use, social distancing, ventilation, and hand hygiene should be prioritised.

As of December 16, Omicron had been confirmed in 77 countries.

This statement comes at a time when the emergence of Omicron variant has prompted countries to rollout booster doses to protect against the COVID-19.

Preliminary studies from Pfizer and BioNTech claimed to have found that a booster shot of their vaccine, in addition to the initial two doses, provides strong protection against the variant, according to the companies.

The WHO also noted that for the first time since the Delta variant was classified as a variant of concern in April, the percentage of Delta sequences registered on the GISAID global science database has declined this week compared with other variants of concern.

The global health body, however, added that the data needs to be interpreted with caution as countries may perform targeted sequencing for Omicron and therefore upload fewer sequences on all other variants, including Delta, it said.

(With inputs from agencies)