The first “signals” from South Africa about the severity of the cases related to the Omigran variant were “a little encouraging,” said a White House health crisis consultant. Anthony Fossie said Sunday, warning that this is only preliminary data.
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“Clearly, in South Africa, Omicron is spreading more and more,” he said in an interview with CNN, noting the “vertical” curve in the number of new cases in that country.
“But so far, although it’s very quick to make any definite decisions, it does not seem to be overly serious,” he said. “So far the signs related to gravity are a little encouraging,” he repeated.
However, medical experts have recently stressed that South Africa’s population is particularly young and serious cases are expected in the coming weeks.
Laboratory studies are underway to determine the extent to which this new variant, which has many mutations of concern to scientists, is contagious, capable of resisting the first infection or vaccine-induced immunity, or causing severe events. Disease.
“I think there’s a real risk of seeing a decline in the effectiveness of vaccines,” Stephen Hawk, president of Moderna, echoed the company’s CEO’s earlier statement on Sunday. , Stéphane Bancel.
“I don’t know how big it is,” he said. “Whether this will be the same as we saw with Delta, whether vaccines against it will be effective, or whether we will see a reduction of about 50% in effectiveness, we need to update them,” he said.
Moderna, like other pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, has already begun work on modifying their vaccine if necessary.
After its first discovery in South Africa, Omigran is now confirmed in at least 15 US states and around 40 countries worldwide.
The United States has closed the border to that country and seven other South Africans for a week. Anthony Fauzi said on Sunday that he hoped the ban would be lifted “within a reasonable time”.