A man receives a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in a public park in Washington, United States on November 29, 2021 (AFP / Jim WATSON)
The World Health Organization on Tuesday advised against people at risk of traveling, while deeming unnecessary the bans on the matter taken by many countries which “will not prevent” the spread of the new variant of the coronavirus Omicron.
“General travel bans will not prevent the spread” of this variant that worries the planet, said the WHO in a technical document, however, recommending that “people who are not in good health or who are at risk of developing a form serious “of the Covid-19 to give up their travel plans.
Faced with what looks like panic, the head of this UN institution, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had already called for “calm” on Tuesday and asked countries for a “rational” and “proportional” response.
Understanding “the concern of all countries to protect their citizens”, he also expressed “concern that several member states are taking general and brutal measures which are neither evidence-based nor effective in themselves and which are not will only worsen inequalities “between countries.
Since Johannesburg reported the appearance of this new variant last week, many states have closed their borders to South Africa and its neighbors, sparking anger in the region.
These measures “may have a negative impact on global health efforts during a pandemic by discouraging countries from reporting and sharing epidemiological and sequencing data,” the WHO warned.
– Several months for a vaccine? –
At a time when the world is wondering about the answer to be given to this variant with multiple mutations, the leader of the vaccine manufacturer Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, predicted in an interview with the Financial Times a “significant drop” in efficacy. current serums.
According to him, it will take several months to develop a new one. “All the scientists I spoke to (…) say + This is not going to do it +”, he assures us.
Various manufacturers, including Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer / BioNTech and Novavax, have nevertheless expressed confidence in their ability to create a new vaccine against Covid-19. Russia has also announced that it is working on a version of its Sputnik V specifically targeting Omicron.
The Covid-19 pandemic has killed at least 5,206,370 people since its appearance in late 2019 in China, according to an AFP count.
Originally reported in South Africa, this new strain has been spotted on all continents, but Europe, facing a new wave, appears to be the continent most affected.
In addition to travel suspensions, many states have instituted preventive measures and, for the wealthy, urged their populations to be injected with a booster dose.
Long considered a good student in Europe, but overwhelmed by an outbreak of infections, Germany on Tuesday rolled out compulsory vaccination, which will be the subject of a law submitted to Parliament before the end of the year .
“Too many people have not been vaccinated,” future Chancellor Olaf Scholz told German television channel Bild TV.
In the United Kingdom, a country among the most bereaved by the pandemic (nearly 145,000 dead), wearing a mask in transport and shops became mandatory again on Tuesday. All arriving travelers must take a PCR test and self-isolate until the result.
Images of the structure of the spike protein of the Delta and Omicron variants presented by the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome and showing the variations observed compared to the original one of SARS-CoV-2 (AFP /)
Sweden, which had already distinguished itself at the start of the pandemic by lightly coercive measures, has announced that it will continue on the same path.
“The Swedish measures have had effects that are not so different from the effects of measures taken by so many other countries,” argued the chief epidemiologist of this kingdom, Anders Tegnell, in an interview with AFP.
The Netherlands, for its part, reported 14 passengers arriving from South Africa carrying Omicron, but this variant was already in circulation there on November 19, almost a week before the South African announcement, according to the reports. Dutch authorities.
Hostesses wearing protective masks and gloves against Covid-19 stand near a departure gate at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on November 29, 2021 (AFP / Philip FONG)
France reported its first case on Tuesday, on Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean, and now recommends vaccination for five-eleven year olds at risk of a severe form of Covid. On Tuesday evening, two cases of coronavirus due to Omicron were also detected in Switzerland.
In Asia, Japan, three weeks after easing certain restrictions, has banned since Tuesday “all entries of foreign nationals”. The government confirmed its first case of Omicron on Tuesday in a man returning from Namibia.
– Exponential rise –
Global assessment of the novel coronavirus pandemic, as of November 30 at 11:00 GMT (AFP /)
Never has a variant of Covid-19 caused so much concern since the emergence of Delta, currently dominant and already very contagious.
The WHO considers “high” the “probability that Omicron spreads globally”, even if many unknowns remain: contagiousness, effectiveness of existing vaccines, severity of symptoms.
Reassuringly, to date, no deaths associated with Omicron have been reported.
In South Africa, most of the new infections are already linked to Omicron, suggesting that the variant has great potential for spread.
A man walks past a screen showing flights canceled upon arrival at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, November 30, 2021 (AFP / Philip FONG)
In this context, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, again pleaded Tuesday for more vaccines for poor countries. “Only a global vaccination plan can end a global pandemic and an unjust and immoral situation,” he said.
Another solution could be the pill against the Covid of the American laboratory Merck. A committee of scientists is meeting on Tuesday in the United States to decide on this alternative solution, which could, if approved, be quickly available.
On Tuesday, the world stock markets and oil retreated sharply in the face of Omicron’s advance.
burx-mba / tbm / bds