By: Braden Gerow, Opinion Editor, The Pawprint
The WHO has stated that existing vaccines should still protect those who contract the Omicron variant, despite the South African study that was suggesting otherwise.
Researchers had said there was a large drop in how well protected those vaccinated are from the new variant of COVID-19, however the WHO has now said otherwise. According to BBC, Dr. Mike Ryan, a WHO doctor, stated that there was no sign that Omicron would be capable of countering the vaccines, and that current vaccines are “very effective”, and that they have proved effective against all other new variants, so there is no reason to anticipate any different in regards to Omicron.
He added that the initial data was not cause for any concern in terms of the severity, and that if anything, the direction the variants are heading is towards lower fatality rates, and the disease being overall less severe.
A South African study of Omicron indicated that the current vaccines are up to forty times less effective than they were compared to other variants, however a virologist for the Africa Health Research Institute, Prof. Alex Sigal, said that Omicron’s ability to void the vaccine antibodies is “incomplete”, and that a combination of both being vaccinated and having been previously infected with any variant of COVID could still neutralize against the variant, suggesting that booster shots may be the right direction.
The general consensus from scientists is that being vaccinated should still protect from severe disease, and that booster shots would be helpful in maintaining that protection. More data is to be released in the coming days on how effective the Pfizer vaccine is against the new variant, and there is not yet significant data on how the other alternative vaccines hold up against it.