Covid-19 roundup: UK preps for a wave of Omicron cases; Bourla suggests a fourth dose might be necessary
With reports of Omicron cases in over 50 countries, and at least 19 US states, some regions like the UK are now expecting a rapid rise of Omicron as community spread takes off.
While the UK has only seen about 800 Omicron cases so far, the government’s Health Security Agency warned that if the recent growth rate continues, “we expect to see at least 50 percent of Covid-19 cases to be caused by the Omicron variant in the next two to four weeks,” according to the New York Times.
John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said that plan B measures announced by PM Boris Johnson were “absolutely not an overreaction” even if Omicron turned out to be milder than the current dominant variant, according to The Guardian.
Edmunds told a Royal Society of Medicine webinar Thursday that it was “extremely likely” there’s more Omicron in communities, adding, “With the speed of spread of this virus, we may well have really significant numbers of cases by Christmas.”
Meanwhile, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that her staff is “available 24/7, as they have been throughout this entire pandemic, to provide in-person and remote technical support for the public health response to the Omicron variant, including investigations of the epidemiologic and clinical characteristics of Omicron or other SARS-CoV-2 infections.”
Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s top infectious disease expert, added at the briefing, “We are doing live virus and pseudo virus assays that might be ready for interpretation in the middle of next week for the pseudo virus and probably the end of next week for the live viruses. We’ll be able to determine whether or not antibodies induced by our vaccines lose their capability of effectiveness with Omicron.”
Between Nov. 26 and Dec. 6, CDC has worked with with more than 25 jurisdictions on suspected and confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, Walensky said.
Pfizer CEO Bourla suggests the need for a fourth vaccine dose to fight Omicron
Data on the Omicron variant that are coming in the next two weeks will offer an accurate look at whether Pfizer’s vaccine can stand up to the new, more infectious variant, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC yesterday.
“When we see real-world data, will determine if the Omicron is well covered by the third dose and for how long. And the second point, I think we will need a fourth dose,” Bourla said. Although, Bourla’s opinion is conflicted by his position and obvious interest in selling as many vaccine doses as possible.
Bourla previously said that a fourth dose likely wouldn’t be needed until a year after the third, but he said this new, faster timeline is because of Omicron.
The push comes as Fauci has also now indicated that an Omicron-targeted vaccine might not be necessary.
While stressing that he was hypothesizing, Fauci suggested in an interview with STAT News that it’s possible the current vaccines will provide enough protection against Omicron.
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