What is the Finest Protection Towards Omicron Variant?
By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
TUESDAY, Nov. 30, 2021
Vaccines and masks will probably be the US’ first line of protection towards the brand new Omicron variant, not lockdowns or border closures, President Joe Biden instructed the nation Monday.
“If individuals are vaccinated and put on their masks, there isn’t any want for lockdowns,” Biden stated, noting that vaccinated individuals who’ve gotten a booster shot are anticipated to have one of the best accessible safety towards the Omicron pressure.
Biden stated the US positioned journey restrictions on southern African international locations to provide Individuals extra time to get vaccinated and boosted towards COVID-19, however he added that extra journey bans should not deliberate right now.
“The diploma of the unfold impacts on whether or not or not there is a want for any journey restriction,” Biden stated. “I do not anticipate that at this level.”
The Biden administration is working with vaccine makers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to organize contingency plans for up to date vaccines or boosters in the event that they’re wanted to dam the Omicron variant, Biden stated.
The White Home plans to situation later this week a “detailed technique outlining how we’ll struggle COVID this winter, not with shutdowns or lockdowns, however with extra widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and extra,” Biden stated.
Information of the Omicron variant surfaced in the course of the Thanksgiving vacation weekend, with the World Well being Group dubbing the brand new pressure, also called B.1.1.529, at an emergency assembly on Friday. Omicron is the fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet.
The WHO designated Omicron a “variant of concern,” primarily due to a excessive variety of mutations within the spike protein the coronavirus makes use of to contaminate human cells.
There are between 26 and 32 mutations on the spike protein, “a few of that are regarding and could also be related to immune escape potential and better transmissibility,” a WHO technical temporary famous.
Instances of the Omicron variant have already been recorded in the UK, the European Union and Canada.
In response to an announcement launched Sunday by Ottawa Public Well being in Ontario, Canada, “two people in Ottawa examined optimistic for the COVID-19 Omicron variant with current journey from Nigeria.”
It is solely a matter of time earlier than the Omicron variant seems in the US, Biden stated.
“In the end we’ll see circumstances of this new variant right here in the US,” Biden stated. “We’ll need to face this new menace, simply as we confronted people who got here earlier than it.”
However “this variant is a trigger for concern, not a trigger for panic,” Biden added.
“We’ve one of the best vaccine on the planet, one of the best medicines, one of the best scientists, and we’re studying extra each single day,” he stated.
It is nonetheless too quickly to inform how large a menace Omicron will pose to the world and the US, the White Home stated.
It should take about two extra weeks to have stable info on how shortly Omicron spreads and the way severely sick it may possibly make folks, White Home Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci stated throughout a COVID-19 response crew assembly on Sunday.
Information experiences out of South Africa famous that COVID-19 circumstances from Omicron have resulted in principally delicate signs.
“To date they’ve principally been very delicate circumstances, with sufferers having flu-like signs: dry coughs, fever, evening sweats, numerous physique pains,” Dr. Unben Pillay, a basic practitioner in South Africa’s Gauteng province, stated throughout a web based media briefing.
“Most of those sufferers have been handled at residence,” stated Pillay, the Related Press reported. “Vaccinated folks are likely to do a lot better. We’ve not seen an enormous enhance in hospitalizations, however that is nonetheless early days. Hospitalizations typically come a number of days after an increase in confirmed circumstances.”
One main professional in virology and infectious illness has urged that individuals not instantly anticipate the worst from Omicron.
May the variant set off extra severe illness? May it evade present vaccines? These are all unknowns, cautioned Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar on the Johns Hopkins Middle for Well being Safety in Baltimore.
“It is too early to know what stage of menace B.1.1.529 constitutes as there may be not sufficient info — significantly medical info — in regards to the circumstances which were recognized,” Adalja stated. He stated there was one early signal for hope: “It seems that the hospitalized sufferers in South Africa had been largely unvaccinated, arguing vaccines shield towards what issues.”
Solely about one-quarter of South Africa’s inhabitants is vaccinated. Throughout the press briefing, Biden famous that South Africa has a enough amount of COVID-19 vaccines, however is having issue getting folks to take the jab.
Responding to media questions, Biden rejected the notion that Individuals ought to get used to new COVID variants rising frequently because the “new regular.”
“I anticipate this to not be the brand new regular,” Biden stated. “I anticipate the brand new regular to be everybody finally ends up getting vaccinated with booster photographs so we cut back the quantity of people that aren’t protected to such a low diploma that we’re not seeing the unfold of those viruses.”
The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has extra about COVID-19 variants.
SOURCES: media briefing with President Joe Biden, Nov. 29, 2021; Related Press; Amesh Adalja, MD, senior scholar, Johns Hopkins Middle for Well being Safety, Baltimore
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