UN remains unsure about effectiveness of vaccines on new variant

The immediate surge of flu cases in Botswana which has been very alarming has been characterized as highly dangerous at it is common with the new Omicron variant. Speaking recently on national television, the Task force team has explained that it is very important for people with this flu to test for Covid-19 as the new variant is highly infectious and contagious hence the need to remain cautious. He also urged people to vaccinate.

The Minister of Healt Edwin Dikoloti has said that at least 25 cases of the Omicron variant have been discovered in Botswana. Dikoloti explained that scientists have discovered that the new variant is highly mutative and more transmissible, urging people who have not taken the vaccine to do so.

“What we don’t know is whether the new variant is more lethal or not, and how effective current vaccines are against it,” Dikoloti he explained. He said that 1,094,388 people or 78.7 percent of the targeted Botswana citizens and residents aged over 18 had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, while 982,275 people or 70.6 percent had been fully vaccinated.

This however he noted Botswana did not only surpass its own target of 64 percent of the targeted population by end of 2021 but also exceeded the target set by the World Health Organization for countries to have vaccinated 40 percent of their eligible population by the end of this month. From a population of 2.35 million, the minister noted that Botswana has so far registered 195,552 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 2,420 deaths.

Early laboratory data on the effectiveness of existing vaccines against the Omicron COVID-19 variant is useful, but it is still unclear how effective these will be in treating severely sick patients, a United Nations (UN) health agency panel said on Thursday

According to a report by the UN, the development follows reassurance from the World Health Organization (WHO) that available vaccines “hold up very well” in protecting people from the worst forms of coronavirus sickness for six months or more, with a “minor, modest reduction” thereafter, particularly among over-65s or those with underlying medical conditions.

“The neutralization data has an underpinning, but it’s really the clinical data that are going to be most influential about how to manage an Omicron situation,” said Dr Kate O’Brien, Director, Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO.

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