Global health calls for the development of vaccines, the strategy of booster doses will not continue

Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) experts warned that only giving booster doses of vaccine is not a viable strategy to confront the mutants arising from the emerging corona virus, and called for new vaccines that better protect against transmission.

The organization’s technical advisory committee on Covid-19 said in a statement that “a vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses” of available vaccines is “not appropriate or viable.”

“There is a need to develop highly effective anti-Covid-19 vaccines to prevent infection, transmission, acute forms of infection and death,” added the committee charged with supervising anti-virus vaccines. The group of experts considered that “pending the availability of such vaccines and with the development of the virus, the composition of the currently available anti-Covid vaccines should be updated to ensure that it continues to provide the levels of protection recommended by the World Health Organization to prevent infection and disease” caused by the mutant, including Omicron. After more than six weeks of monitoring this mutant in South Africa, data from several countries converge on two points: the transmission of Omicron infection, which the organization considers a mutant of concern, is faster than the previously dominant delta mutant, but it generally causes less dangerous forms of the disease. But it is not known whether the apparent lower level of risk is related to the characteristics of the mutant itself, or whether it is due to the fact that it infects communities that have become partially immune through the vaccine or previous infections.

However, the omicron mutant is spreading at a rocketing speed in many countries, and infections double every two or three days, which is unprecedented with previous mutagens.

Meanwhile, Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a press briefing that the continent witnessed more than seven million new cases of Covid-19 in the first week of 2022, more than doubling during a two-week period.

“At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation expects that more than 50 percent of the region’s population will be infected with omicron within the next six to eight weeks,” he added, referring to a research center at the University of Washington.

Kluge stressed that “the approved vaccines continue to provide good protection against severe forms of the epidemic and the risk of death.”

He said that 50 countries out of 53 countries in Europe and Central Asia recorded infections with the most contagious strain.

However, there is evidence that Omicron infects the upper respiratory tract more than the lungs, causing it to cause milder symptoms than previous strains. But Kluge considered it too early to consider COVID-19 an endemic disease like influenza. Yesterday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that it may be time to change how the development of Covid-19 is tracked to using a similar method to track influenza because Covid has become less deadly. This would mean treating the virus as an endemic disease, not as a pandemic, requiring the registration of every infection and the testing of all symptomatic populations.

In the same press briefing, Catherine Smallwood, chief emergency officer for the World Health Organization in Europe, said that this is still “a distant matter,” adding that an endemic infectious disease requires stability and predictability.

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