New Delhi: A South African study published this week suggested that those infected with Omicron were significantly less likely to end up in the hospital than those with Delta, although the authors said some of that was probably due to high levels of immunity in the population. The head of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged countries to learn from the past two years of the pandemic, calling again for greater vaccine equity, in the hope of ending the pandemic that has killed over 5.6 million people around the world, next year.
As we approach the new year, we must all learn the painful lessons this year has taught us. 2022 must be the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Blanket booster programmes of COVID-19 vaccines are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate, said Dr Tedros.
No country can boost its way out of the pandemic and boosters cannot be seen as a ticket to go ahead with planned celebrations, without the need for other precautions, said Dr Tedros during a media briefing.
“About 20 per cent of all vaccine doses administered every day are currently being given as boosters or additional doses,” he added.
Dr Tedros also laid emphasis upon the vast majority of hospitalisations and deaths are reported among unvaccinated people, not un-boosted people.
And we must be very clear that the vaccines we have to remain effective against both the Delta and Omicron variants, he added.
Emphasising that the global priority must be to support all countries to reach the 40 per cent vaccination target as quickly as possible, Dr Tedros said that by the middle of this year countries must vaccinate 70 per cent of their population.
Even as we work to make the best use of the [#COVID19] vaccines we have, WHO is also working to identify the next generation of vaccines through the Solidarity Trial Vaccines, Dr Tedros added.
He also said that blanket booster programmes are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate.
Further, Dr Tedros informed that WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, or SAGE concluded their primary review on booster doses and said that that the focus of immunization must remain on decreasing death and severe disease, and expressed concern that blanket booster programmes will exacerbate vaccine inequity.
The World Health Organization does not yet have enough data on the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus to say if it is more severe than the Delta variant, almost a month after South Africa first raised the alarm about its emergence.
We do have some data suggesting that rates of hospitalisation are lower, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, Dr Maria van Kerkhove said.
But she cautioned against drawing conclusions from the early data because “we have not seen this variant circulate long enough in populations around the world, certainly in vulnerable populations,” she added.
Dr Maria said the data on the new variant, first identified in southern Africa and Hong Kong in November, was still “messy” as countries reported its arrival and spread.
We have been asking people to be cautious, we have been asking countries to be cautious, and to really think, especially as these holidays are coming up.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.