Corona vaccines are “the best weapon” against the new Omicron variant. Early signs from South Africa indicate that they are “standing up in terms of protection.” That says the number two of the World Health Organization (WHO), Michael Ryan, in an interview.
“We have very effective vaccines that have so far proven effective in fighting the different variants, in terms of the severity of the disease and hospitalizations,” Ryan said in an interview with AFP news agency. According to the WHO’s Director of Emergency Situations, there is “no reason to believe” that this would be different in the case of the omicron variant.
Ryan acknowledges the possibility that vaccines may prove less effective against the Omicron variant. Still, he considers it “very unlikely” that vaccinations would do nothing against the variant. “The first data from South Africa do not indicate a catastrophic decline in effectiveness. In fact, they point to the contrary.”
According to Ryan, the first experiences in South Africa indicate that vaccinated people or people who have already had corona can be more easily infected with the Omicron variant than with previous variants.
On the other hand, this group of patients has only mild complaints. And that’s what it’s all about, says Ryan: “We are not so much interested in how much you can be reinfected with the omicron variant, but how serious such a re-infection is.”
The positive signals about the Omicron variant are encouraging, but it is still too early to rest on one’s laurels, the WHO boss concludes. According to Ryan, Corona must still be fought as vigorously as ever: “The virus itself has not suddenly changed. It may have changed in terms of efficiency, but the game hasn’t changed. The rules of the game are still the same.”