The new Omicron variant is significantly more contagious and resistant to Covid-19 vaccines. However, people who got both doses will be safe against severe medical complications – a study from South Africa revealed on Tuesday.
The variant which seemingly emerged from South Africa seems likely to be the next variant that will take over the world just as the Delta variant did. 90% of the cases of the current variant have been reported in South Africa and have now become a growing concern for Europe.
Omicron has spread to 30 U.S. states. However, the delta variant continues to dominate with the majority of the cases.
The details about the virus that allegedly broke out around Thanksgiving are yet to figure out completely how dangerous and contagious it can be.
According to Discovery Health, a well-reputed health insurer, two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that previously provided 90% protection against the original virus is just 33% effective for the omicron variant.
Full vaccination will continue to provide 70% protection in severe cases. However, its effectiveness is reduced to a considerable extent for people aged 60 and above.
“This is the first time we’ve had any data on that,” said the Vice President at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Dr. Eric Topol, on the use of current data for medical research.
“Seventy percent is definitely a dropdown. It isn’t great,” said Topol. “It was 95% effective severe disease when it was delta variant and then about 85% after six months of waning.”
“Whether those numbers will continue to hold as more patients with omicron are studied isn’t yet clear”, he continued. “This is all still so new.”
Meanwhile, other studies done by Pfizer-BioNTech recommend that the booster shots can restore the original level of protection for a brief period of time.
“The Omicron-driven fourth (wave) has a significantly steeper trajectory of new infections relative to prior waves,” said the CEO of Discovery Health, Dr, Ryan Noach, in a statement. “National data show an exponential increase in both new infections and test positivity rates during the first three weeks of this wave, indicating a highly transmissible variant with rapid community spread of infection.”