New vaccines might not be required for the Omicron variant: Experts

Healthcare workers are indicating that current vaccines are likely to be effective against the new variant.

A South African expert in infectious diseases stated that the current COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be effective at preventing hospitalisations and severe disease from the new strain, Omicron. Professor Salim Abdool Karim stated that it’s too early to determine whether the new variant could result in more severe clinical symptoms than the previous variants, though the variant is highly infectious and people with immunity are susceptible to the disease. "Our public health interventions all work, but the area that has created the concern and this global overreaction is that we're not sure about whether the current vaccines will protect against this new variant," added Prof Karim. A South African doctor who initially suspected the new variant noted that the Omicron variant was producing mild symptoms.

Scientists are yet to determine the effect of current vaccines on the strain as well as the deadliness compared to past variants. American infectious disease epidemiologist, Dr Maria van Kerkhove stated, "There is some indication that some of the patients are presenting mild disease." Since the announcement of the discovery of the variant, there has been a global reaction with multiple countries banning travel from South Africa. The fear of the spread of the variant in vaccinated populations has resulted in countries imposing further restrictions. Minister Joe Phaahla announced in a news conference that the South African government is putting all efforts in preparing the healthcare facilities to manage the strain. Officials are trying to appeal to the countries that have imposed travel bans in order to get them reversed.