THE HAGUE – The European Medicines Agency said Thursday that the Omicron variety of Covid-19 may cause lesser sickness, while the World Health Organization warned against a repeat of vaccine stockpiling by wealthier countries as the new strain spreads.
The European Medicines Agency’s preliminary decision comes after the World Health Organization indicated this week that there is some evidence that Omicron causes less severe illness than Delta, the presently dominant type.
The EMA confirmed the findings but stated that further study was underway.
“Cases appear to be mostly mild,” said Marco Cavaleri, EMA’s head of biological health threats and vaccines strategy. “However, we need to gather more evidence to determine whether the spectrum of disease severity caused by Omicron is different (than) that of all the variants that have been circulating so far.”
When the highly mutated form was discovered in South Africa last month, it generated global worry, leading fears that it may be more infectious, cause more severe sickness, or elude vaccinations.
On Wednesday, The World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that “new data from South Africa shows a greater risk of reinfection with Omicron.”
According to Cavaleri, preliminary results indicate that Omicron is more contagious than Delta, although it is unclear if it will eventually replace the older dominant strain.
He also emphasised that there were better preventative and treatment options available than last winter.
Pfizer and BioNTech said on Wednesday that a third dosage of their vaccine was successful against the variation, and that they were working on an Omicron-specific vaccine that will be ready in March.
Some rich nations, such as Germany and the United Kingdom, have already been struck severely by a winter surge of diseases.
Tottenham’s game against Brighton on Sunday was postponed in the United Kingdom owing to “a substantial number of positive COVID-19 cases among players and key personnel” at the north London club.
Both Berlin and London have implemented additional measures to prevent the virus’s spread, and financial markets have been plagued by concerns about the virus’s economic effect.
This led the World Health Organization to issue a warning on Thursday about the vaccination supply constraints witnessed earlier this year.
O’Brien stated that the World Health Organization was reviewing data from Pfizer and BioNTech on the booster shot and that “further doses have potential to providing greater protection against Omicron,” but emphasised that it was still “very early days.”
Cavaleri of the EMA also stated that “at this moment, we do not have enough data.”
Later Thursday, the government stated that Covid boosters are “safe and effective” three months after the previous injection.
Meanwhile, the UN’s Africa office said that detections of new coronavirus infections had nearly quadrupled in the previous week, to 107,000, as the new version “is reaching additional nations in Africa.”
The south of the continent had the greatest increase in population (140 percent on average).
However, “severe cases remain limited” in South Africa, which detected the new type last month, according to the WHO.
Nonetheless, it urged governments to increase vaccines, noting that just 7.8 percent of the continent’s 1.2 billion people had been immunised.
According to EMA estimates, this compares to approximately 600 million doses provided in Europe alone.