"Highly unlikely" existing vaccines will fail against Omicron, says World Health Organisation official

According to a WHO official, Omicron does not seem to be more severe than any other Covid variant. AFP reported that it is “highly unlikely to fully dodge vaccine protections”

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According to a World Health Organisation official, Omicron does not seem to be more severe than any other Covid variant. AFP reported that it is “highly unlikely to fully dodge vaccine protections”.

WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told AFP that from whatever preliminary data is available about Omicron, it seems to be somewhat less severe than other variants and doesn’t make people any more sicker than the Delta strain. Ryan stressed that there’s still a lot unknown about the strain and research is needed to ascertain things. "It's very early days, we have to be very careful how we interpret that signal," he said.

When it comes to vaccinations, Ryan said that there’s no proof that Omicron can “sidestep protections” that are provided by Covid vaccines. He quoted the example of South Africa, where he said that vaccines seem to hold up against Omicron in terms of protection so far. Although he did acknowledge that the existing vaccines might not be as effective against Omicron, “which counts more than 30 mutations on the spike protein that dots the surface of the coronavirus and allows it to invade cells,” but the variant is not likely to completely evade the vaccine, said AFP.

Ryan mentioned that according to preliminary data, Omicron is highly transmissible and could soon become the dominant strain replacing the Delta variant, and the “best weapon” against it is vaccination.


The WHO official said that since Omicron is spreading so much in South Africa, it may be "exploiting a gap in the transmission of Delta". He mentioned that the new variant doesn’t only attack unvaccinated and vaccinated people both, it can also cause reinfection quickly. He added, "we're particularly interested in seeing not whether you can be reinfected with Omicron, but whether any new infection is more or less severe."

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