Rome, 2 December 2021 – The first analyzes on the variante Omicron of the Covid. First and foremost: the vaccines currently in use against should continue to protect from serious diseases also in the case of the variant. This was stated by Professor Anne von Gottberg, of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, in a WHO briefing on the situation on the continent. Furthermore, the first data indicate that the variant is contagious as or not the Delta. However, this new variant is causing more cases of reinfection than its predecessors. According to the initial studies, in fact, it would emerge that those who have already had Covid are not protected against Omicron. Anne von Gottberg then notes that Omicron is in all probability becoming the dominant Covid variant in South Africa. At the moment, only a limited number of tests have been carried out to verify the presence of the new variant, however of all those sequenced Omicron represents 75%, he explained.
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A boom in cases since the discovery of the Omicron variant throughout Africa, especially in the southern area, driven by South Africa which was the first to announce the identification of the new strain. In the last week, the infections recorded across the continent are increased by 54%, according to the data of the‘WHO. A surge on which, the UN agency specifies, there is still not enough data to certify the link with the new Coronavirus mutation. But according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases of South Africa, Omicron is already dominant in the country and has been identified in 3 out of 4 cases among those studied in the last month, while infections in the country have doubled in a single day between Tuesday and Wednesday. In the last 24 hours, 51,402 tests have been carried out in the country, from which they emerged 11,535 new cases, with a positivity rate of 22.4%. An additional 44 deaths were reported.
But the problem remains the very low rate of immunized throughout Africa, where it is now covered with two doses only 7.5% of the population, equal to 102 million people. Figures that substantiate the WHO alarm on the continuous spread of new strains in the absence of a fair vaccination campaign globally. According to the United Nations Global Dashboard for Vaccination Equity, so far only 6.48% of the target population in poorer countries have been vaccinated with at least one dose, compared with 64.99% in richer ones. And among the emblematic cases there is that of Nigeria, the most populous of African states, where up to now about 3.5 million people out of 103 million over 18 have been fully immunized. And in some countries, such as South Sudan, Chad, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, percentage is even lower than 1%. A dramatic picture for which Chinese President Xi Jinping promised a new contribution this week, assuring that Beijing will provide an additional billion doses of vaccines to Africa within the next year, of which 600 million free of charge and the rest produced locally.
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According to the forecasts ofEcdc, the Omicron variant should represent beyond the half of all Covid infections in Europe within the next few months: this is what we read in a new report from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Preliminary data from South Africa on the Omicron variant “suggest it may have a substantial growth advantage over the Delta and, if so, mathematical models indicate that Omicron is expected to cause more than half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the Delta. EU / EEA within the next few months “. The cases of Omicron in Europe, recalls Ecdc, so far are 70 in 13 countries.
Furthermore – again according to the report – the probability of a further introduction e diffusion of the variant in the countries of the EU and the European Economic Area is high, at present the information is still incomplete but the impact in countries already struggling with the Delta variant could be very high. The overall level of risk associated with the further emergence and spread of Omicron is assessed high to very high.
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From the France however, please do not lose sight of the virus currently circulating in Europe. “There Omicron variant was the one we feared. A variant with mutations mainly at the level of the Spike protein, the area of the virus against which the vaccines are directed. It has 30 mutations in the Spike protein, which is a lot, and then a dozen elsewhere “, says, speaking on Bfmtv-Rmc, the president of the French Scientific Council, Jean-François Delfraissy. But remember that currently in France “it is the fifth wave caused by the Delta variant that must be kept under control”. “We have to anticipate this virus, there are still many uncertainties, we have to keep an eye on this variant, but make no mistake, the real enemy is the fifth wave with the Delta variant,” he added, predicting that it will take a certain amount of time because ” the new variant is established in France and in Europe in general “. According to current projections “it should progressively outweigh the Delta variant” in early 2022. “This leaves us time to prepare. And the response to the fifth wave and the response to Omicron are the same: the vaccine booster.” .
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