Omicron variant: Compulsory vaccination should be ‘absolute last resort’, says WHO

Dec 8, 2021

By: Vaamanaa Sethi

New variant is more transmissible

Top US scientist, Anthony Fauci, said on Tuesday, that the new Omicron variant is ‘clearly highly transmissible’ than the Delta strain, which is currently the dominant global variant. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also pointed out the same thing. It said that it is more transmissible and capable of undergoing frequent mutations.

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Omicron not severe than the previous strain

Michael Ryan, top WHO official, on Tuesday told news agency AFP, “No indication to suggest that Omicron, although highly infectious, causes a more severe disease than previous COVID-19 variants such as Delta.”

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Chances of re-infection are higher with Omicron

Fauci of the US said that the accumulated data from all over the world suggests that re-infections are higher with the new Omicron strain and it is likely better at evading immunity from vaccinations.

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COVID-19 vaccines are the only saviour

“We have highly effective vaccines that have proved effective against all the variants so far, in terms of severe disease and hospitalisation, and there's no reason to expect that it wouldn't be so [for Omicron],” Ryan of WHO said.

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After Austria, other European countries may also make jabs mandatory

After Austria announced in November that inoculations would be compulsory from February 1, other European countries are also debating whether to make the jabs compulsory or not.

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All countries should mandate COVID-19 jabs

Hans Kluge, regional director of Europe at WHO, said in a statement, “Mandates around vaccination are an absolute last resort and only applicable when all feasible options to improve vaccination uptake have been exhausted.”

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EU suggests mix and match of COVID-19 vaccines

European Union (EU) health agencies have recommended that COVID-19 vaccines be mixed and matched for both initial courses and booster doses.“The combination of viral vector vaccines and mRNA vaccines produces good levels of antibodies against COVID-19”, said European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in a statement on Tuesday.

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Origin of the new variant is still unknown

The new Omicron variant has been detected in 38 countries so far. Fauci said, “The science remains unclear on how the variant originated, but there are two main theories. Either it evolved inside the body of an immunocompromised patient, such as a person with HIV who failed to rapidly fight off the virus or, the virus could have crossed from humans to animals, then returned to people in a more mutated form, in an example of "reverse zoonosis.”

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India’s tally of newly emerged Omicron COVID-19 cases reached 23.

Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Delhi have reported positive cases so far.

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