Omicron variant, the virologist Guido Silvestri: “Origin from a patient with Covid for 200 days. Strengthen the Green pass and third doses of vaccine”

“Strengthen the Green Pass, accelerate third doses and vaccinations for all those over 5 years old, spread the use of antivirals with proven efficacy, enhance intensive care”. Guido Silvestri, full professor and director of the department of General Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta (USA), in a long post on Facebook invokes prudence in declarations and also in actions. Of the Omicron variant of Sars Cov 2 – which has alerted the world – it gives the coordinates and first-hand news coming from South Africa thanks to the information of the professor Penny Moore (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg), “who is the person who discovered and characterized the Omicron variant”.

First of all, there is greater certainty about the origin of Omicron: “It comes from a patient with severe HIV infection who had a Covid that lasted over 200 days due to the state of severe immunodeficiency. We recall that, due to lockdowns and other anti-Covid restrictions, the percentage of subjects with HIV / AIDS treated with anti-retroviral therapy (ART), and that cases like these will increase are destined to increase “. At the moment, however, it is not yet known whether the Omicron variant causes a milder disease: “At the moment we do not know, it will take two-three weeks to tell, and any speculation at this point would be useless”, a fact that seems to have been acquired instead is that of the speed of diffusion even if “it is not yet possible to quantify exactly the importance of this phenomenon”. Omicron can infect people who have already had the disease or who have been vaccinated. “However, this also applies to Delta variant; at the moment we cannot say exactly how often, it will take a few weeks to find out ”. On the resistance of vaccines, the scientist claims that “in silico analyzes suggest that cellular T-type responses should still hold up to this new variant ”. Speech that applies to monoclonals and antivirals. Silvestri also remembers that it is possible to do RNA messenger vaccines including Omicron: “Moderna is already doing it (and probably Pfizer too, I guess).

Today an emergency G7 of health ministers is convened and some countries – primarily Great Britain – have blocked flights from some southern African countries. But for Silvestri it probably doesn’t make “sense to try to block the spread of the Omicron variant through non-pharmacological measures (lockdowns, closure of the borders, etc. Given also the experience with Delta. South Africa has chosen not to lockdown, and is harshly criticizing as useless and stigmatizing the choice of many countries of block flights and close borders to their citizens and residents “.

“The emergence of the Omicron variant, which occurs in singular coincidence with the World AIDS Day (1 December, next Wednesday), reminds us for the umpteenth time that we live in a global village. The emergence of new variants in subjects with immune-deficiency from HIV / AIDS is fought through science and by implementing two simple but very important measures: providing antiretroviral therapy to all subjects with HIV; vaccinating the entire world population for Covid ”says Silvestri who calls for caution. “Avoid alarmism, stay calm, don’t talk nonsense about things you don’t know yet…. do not invoke useless and stigmatizing measures “. Finally, the virologist recalls “that science saves us, because it is thanks to it that we have discovered Omicron, we are characterizing it, and even in the worst case we would soon have vaccines capable of containing it. And then the fact that we Westerners have to be less selfish. Right now I would like to shout it in the streets. But did it really take the fear of variants to remind us of the ethical importance, even before health, of vaccinating the entire world population against Covid? But was Omicron really needed to make us understand the importance of making anti-retroviral therapy for HIV available all over the world and for all patients? “.

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