Could Omicron be a ‘positive turning point’ in the global pandemic?
- Epidemiologist says Omicron could be an inflexion point if it turns out to be more mild.
- The U.S. FDA is preparing for a quick review of Omicron-targeted vaccines and drugs.
- Dr Scott Gottlieb is confident the existing vaccines will be sufficient for the new variant.
When CDC confirmed the first case of Omicron in California at the start of this week, Dr Anthony Fauci – chief medical advisor to the U.S. President, said the individual had “mild symptoms”.
If that continues to be true, the new variant could mark a positive turning point in the global pandemic, says Hamburg University of Applied Sciences’ professor of epidemiology, Dr Ralf Rentjes.
Dr Rentjes’ remarks on CNBC’s ‘Street Signs Europe’Copy link to section
The many waves of COVID-19 have established that trying to block the spread of this virus is a rather futile attempt. The point of vaccination and other available treatments is to try and make COVID-19 as harmless as a common cold. On CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe”, Dr Rentjes said:
Omicron could actually be an inflexion point if it turns out to be more mild. It’ll mean we’re at the point where more people will get it much more quickly, but it’s more benign. But we don’t know for sure if it’ll be achieved with this new variant. It’s early days; we need to wait and see.
Also on Friday, the Wall Street Journal said the U.S. FDA is preparing for a quick review of Omicron-targeted vaccines and drugs.
Do we need updated vaccines in the first place?Copy link to section
It is yet to be known, though, if there’s a need to update the vaccines or the existing ones will work just fine against Omicron. In case of the former, it could take up to three months for the new vaccines to hit the market, as per Dr Scott Gottlieb.
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The former FDA commissioner, who also sits on the board of Pfizer Inc, however, is fairly confident the existing vaccines will be effective against Omicron.
Even if manufacturers switch to producing an updated vaccine, he added, it’ll primarily be used in people at the highest risk of COVID-related hospitalisation or death, while boosters of the original vaccine will be sufficient for the rest of the population.