AGI – Omicron is the name of the new variant that scares the world. The WHO has called it worrying and counter measures are being taken from Europe to the United States.
The first is the squeeze on travel. The 27 EU, USA, Canada, Great Britain, Israel, Brazil, Australia have imposed travel restrictions on South Africa and neighboring countries, including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Eswatini .
Omicron, which has been taken over “in almost all South African provinces”, appears to have a increased risk of reinfection and appears to have an even greater transmission capacity compared to previous strains. For this reason, scientists consider it the “most worrying” variant seen so far because it contains “a large number of mutations” that could not only make it more transmissible but also help it evade the immune system: it has 32 mutations in the spike protein (the part coronavirus that gives it its characteristic shape and the key to the virus entering human cells), much more than Beta and Delta combined.
The Sapllanzani Task Force
With respect to the “concern that is spreading in the country”, the Institute explains that it is “fundamental first study the phenomenon and then establish the necessary measures to be adopted, avoiding emotional reactions not supported by scientific basis “. Spallanzani, who set up a task force to study the variant established today, also expresses “great appreciation for the position taken by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who forcefully asked pharmaceutical companies to update vaccines as soon as possible, making them effective against the variants in progress “.
Vaccine resistance is still unclear
It is not clear for now whether it is more or less resistant to anticovid vaccines (although Pfizer / BioNTech has made it known that in three months it could have the doses ready for the variant) but the PCR diagnostic tests seem to continue to be valid. The US pharmaceutical company Moderna also wants to develop a specific booster dose for the so-called Omicron variant of Covid-19.
But the EMA slows down and stresses that it is too early to say if new vaccines are needed.
The first European case in Belgium
The Omicron variant, however, is already in Europe, in Belgium to be precise. The infected is a young woman who developed symptoms eleven days after traveling to Egypt via Turkey: she was neither vaccinated nor had she previously contracted the virus.
It is interesting to note, however, that – excluding Switzerland – the countries have so far applied restrictions only to the nations of southern Africa but not to Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium where cases of Omicron have been found.
In the United States still no cases
The United States has not yet identified any Omicron cases. This was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), specifying that it is ready to “identify it quickly, if it emerges in the US”.
Meanwhile, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency ordered the postponement of all scheduled surgeries, in order to channel forces in view of the possible spike in hospitalizations for the pandemic from Covid. The governor explained the provision with the need not to clog up the intensive care in hospitals, in view of the arrival of the winter months when a new peak of infections is expected. But already now the cases are on the rise. Hochul urged New Yorkers to get vaccinated and undergo the third dose.
In Japan, set up quarantine for travelers
The 10-day quarantine for travelers from 10 southern African countries is in force in Japan today due to fears over the new Covid variant. Passengers on flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana will have to isolate themselves in special facilities upon arrival in the Rising Sun, undergo a first swab and then three others during the next 10 days.
Australia and Brazil block flights
‘Australia banned flights from nine southern African countries to prevent the arrival of the new Omicron variant. Health Minister Greg Hunt explained that non-Australians who have visited South Africa, Zimbabwe and several other countries in the past 15 days will be banned from crossing Australia’s borders. Brazil also closes the borders to 6 African countries.