The United States has asked airlines to hand over the names of passengers in areas of southern Africa affected by Omicron, which the World Health Organization (WHO) says has now reached at least 24 countries, with cases ranging from mild to severe.
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The South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said Omicron’s profile and early epidemiological data suggested it was able to evade some immunity, but existing vaccines should still protect against them. serious illness and death.
He said 74% of all samples he genetically sequenced last month belonged to the new variant, which was announced a week ago but was first found in a sample taken on November 8 at Gauteng, the most populous province in South Africa.
The number of new cases reported in South Africa doubled from Tuesday to Wednesday.
WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove said in a briefing that data on Omicron’s contagiousness should be available “within days”.
The CEO of BioNTech said the vaccine he is making in partnership with Pfizer is likely to offer strong protection against serious illnesses from Omicron.
The chairman of the European Union’s executive board said there was a “race against time” to avoid the new variant as scientists establish how easily it can spread and whether it can escape protection vaccine. The EU has put the start of its vaccine rollout for children aged 5 to 11 forward by a week to December 13.
‘PREPARE FOR THE WORST’
“Prepare for the worst, hope for the best,” Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference.
She said scientists said a full vaccination and a vaccine booster offered the strongest possible protection.
But WHO Emergency Director Mike Ryan has criticized developed countries for pushing booster shots for much of their fully vaccinated populations when even vulnerable people in many of the poorest areas have not. at all been vaccinated.
“To my knowledge, there is no evidence to suggest that strengthening the entire population will necessarily offer better protection to otherwise healthy people against hospitalization or death,” he said. he declares.
Britain and the United States have both expanded their booster programs in response to the new variant, highlighting the disparity between massive vaccination campaigns in wealthy countries and sparse inoculation in the developing world.
The WHO has repeatedly noted that the coronavirus will continue to produce new variants as long as it is allowed to circulate freely in large unvaccinated https://www.reuters.com/world/vaccine-coverage-below- 10-seven-eastern -méditerranée-nations-qui-2021-12-01 populations.
Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, Saudi Arabia and South Korea were among the most recent countries to report variant cases. Britain has said its total of 22 cases will certainly increase.
Australia said at least two people visited several places in Sydney when they were likely infectious and Denmark said one infected person attended a large concert.
Some 56 countries are said to have implemented travel measures to guard against Omicron as of November 28, the WHO said.
Hong Kong has added Japan, Portugal and Sweden to its travel restrictions, while Uzbekistan has said it will suspend flights with Hong Kong as well as South Africa. Malaysia has temporarily banned travelers from eight African countries and said Britain and the Netherlands could join the list.
The United States has banned nearly all foreigners who have visited any of the eight countries in southern Africa.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ordered airlines to release the names and other information of passengers who have traveled to those countries.
But Fitch Ratings said it lowered its forecast for global passenger air traffic for 2021 and 2022, with the emergence of new variants highlighting the unpredictability of the situation.