New Omicron variant: the need to vaccinate the whole planet

New Omicron variant: the need to vaccinate the whole planet

MISE & Agrave; DAY

Paris | The emergence of the Omicron variant, detected for the first time in South Africa, is a reminder of the urgency of vaccination on a global scale, the only one capable of providing global immune coverage to control the epidemic. & nbsp;

Is the insufficient vaccination of part of the planet the cause of the emergence of new variants, potentially more dangerous than the hegemonic Delta? Are vaccines the lethal weapon to one day end this multi-episode pandemic?

So many questions that arise and rest since the appearance of the Omicron variant which has worried the whole world for several days.

All the leads do not come down to insufficient vaccination. Experts from the French Scientific Council, responsible for helping the government with the health crisis, thus deem it probable that Omicron appeared in an immunocompromised person.

The variant would be the heir of a long line of mutations, accumulated during a “chronic” infection with Sars-COV2, in a person with severe immune deficiency.

But, whatever its origin, this variant “will spread all the less quickly the more the surrounding population is immune,” Arnaud Fontanet, member of the scientific council and epidemiologist at the Institut Pasteur, emphasizes to AFP.

However, in South Africa, only a quarter of the population is vaccinated. And, more broadly, “one can imagine that a multiplication of the virus during uncontrolled epidemics offers so many opportunities for the emergence of variants”.

Countries around the world have, in any case, started a race against time to limit its spread, some like Israel and Japan going so far as to close their borders. But for many researchers, these measures ignore the heart of the problem, vaccine inequality.

“If you are worried about the risk (linked) to Omicron, get vaccinated if you are not already (…) The travel bans will not change anything. Vaccines and global health equity, yes, “US virologist Angela Rasmussen tweeted on Sunday.

” Electroshock “

” J ' I would like this new concern to serve as an electric shock so that the international community realizes the importance of vaccinating the population on a global scale “, argues Arnaud Fontanet.

Because” the planet will only be safe when we will have achieved an overall immune coverage that will considerably limit the circulation and the opportunities for the emergence of variants, ”he continues.

The issue of unequal access to vaccines between rich and poor countries, regularly raised by the World Health Organization (WHO) is becoming increasingly glaring.

Monday, the President of the Council scientist Jean-François Delfraissy called for “not to oppose vaccination with a booster in northern countries and vaccination in southern countries”. “You need both,” he insisted.

In mid-November, the international Covax mechanism crossed the barrier of 500 million doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccine distributed in 144 countries and territories.

This international funding mechanism, founded in particular by the Alliance vaccine and WHO, is supposed to allow 92 underprivileged states and territories to receive free vaccines funded by more prosperous nations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday pledged one billion doses of anti-vaccine -COVID to Africa, in the form of donations or support for local production.

In a joint statement, the African Union, the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Covax called for an improvement in the quality of vaccine donations.

“The majority of donations to this days were punctual, provided with little notice and short shelf life. This has made it extremely difficult for countries to plan vaccination campaigns and increase absorption capacity “, they warned.

A weakness also highlighted by Arnaud Fontanet:” If we want to vaccinate the world population, it's not just a problem of doses, it goes way beyond ”.

“ These are fragile healthcare system organizations that need to be helped, and a persuasive work to be undertaken with certain populations, “he continues.

According to a recent World Bank report, 50 billion dollars should be put on the table.

A profitable investment because “the emergence of new variants can destabilize our societies and our economies,” insists Mr. Fontanet.

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