The World Health Organization urges not to rush to introduce mandatory vaccination, and in Britain the new Omicron is gradually replacing Delta – the latest news of the pandemic.
Not much is still known about the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus, but WHO warns that mandatory vaccination is the most extreme measure. Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues its destructive march across the planet. According to the latest data from the American Johns Hopkins University, the United States remains the leader in terms of the rate of its spread – over the last 28 days, the number of new cases amounted to 2.6 million. Germany is in second place (1.4 million), in third place is Great Britain (1.1 million), in fourth is Russia (more than 970 thousand). Air force…
Last Tuesday, European Union health ministers discussed at a meeting the situation with the spread of Omicron. While every European country is free to decide how to avoid overloading hospitals, increasing deaths and infections, Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health, urged special attention to the vaccination campaign, distance and wearing masks.
There is still no complete picture of how much more dangerous Omicron infection is in comparison with other strains. The most pressing question is whether it can bypass antibodies that are obtained after illness or during vaccination. But, as early evidence suggests, omicron is definitely more contagious. Just yesterday the World Health Organization reported in the weekly epidemiological bulletin on the discovery of a new omicron strain in 57 countries, in six WHO regions.
At first, the omicron was found only on travelers arriving from Africa. But now there are good reasons to believe that it has already spread among the population of other countries. Some of them are sure that only bans on entry will help to stop the spread of Omicron. Jens Spahn, German Minister of Health, says:
“We still don’t know everything about” Omicron. Consequently, restrictions on entry to the EU are important in order to minimize the spread of the new variant in Europe and Germany. “
But experts “do not yet know whether the omicron leads to an increase in infectiousness”, as well as there is no clarity regarding the severity of the disease. At the moment, according to information about 212 cases of infection with this strain identified in 18 EU countries, experts say that the disease is “asymptomatic or mild.”
Doctors from hospitals in South Africa’s capital Pretoria say patients with omicron carry the infection more easily than those with Delta. Most of the patients have been admitted to hospitals for other reasons and do not even have symptoms of the coronavirus. And deaths from it in South Africa have not yet increased, despite the increase in the number of cases.
However, scientists urge not to relax: a new version is being studied, and the final idea of its nature will become known not earlier than in a few weeks.
Hans Kluge, head of the WHO Europe office, said that mandatory vaccination should be “an absolutely last resort, which should only be used when all other options have been exhausted”:
“The effectiveness of mandatory measures is highly context sensitive. What is acceptable in one community may not work or be acceptable in another.”
The WHO representative notes that at the moment the organization is observing an increase in infections in all age groups, and the highest rates are recorded among children aged 5-14 years. Young children get sick two to three times more often than the average for all categories of the population.
But if the virus is not too dangerous for children, who often carry it in a mild form, then for their grandparents, to whom they can transmit it, the infection can become fatal. In this regard, WHO calls for special attention to child protection… Kluge stated that, in addition to vaccinations, schools need to improve ventilation, and masks should become mandatory in all primary grades.
At the same time, the representative of the World Health Organization believes that it is necessary vaccinate children – each country must decide independently.
In the meantime, the omicron continues to spread. In about 10 days, UK infections with the new strain are expected to outnumber those reported. in African countries, which are included in the “red list”. That prediction comes from Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at the nonprofit Covid Zoe, which has been researching the coronavirus since last March.
He believes that there are at least three times more real cases of omicron infection than official figures indicate. The British authorities have announced about 350 cases, but the professor believes that there are already 1,000 to 2,000 cases in the country. His colleague Dr. Jeffrey Barrett of the British Senger Institute, director of the coronavirus genomics initiative, is of the same opinion:
“I think we can now say that this option is spreading faster in the UK than Delta.”
He is convinced that in a few weeks, Omicron will become dominant in the country and oust Delta. And the authorities are still trying to prevent the further spread of an unknown new version, about which is known to be offensively little. Mandatory tests for those entering the country have been introduced again from Tuesday.