(Washington) Prominent American scientist Anthony Fauci told AFP on Tuesday that the Omicron variant does not cause more severe cases of COVID-19 than Delta, adding that we will have to wait more “at least two weeks” to see if it is less serious. .
The White House adviser on the health crisis spoke in a phone interview about the first known elements and uncertainties surrounding the new variable spreading around the world: its transmissibility, the immune response to vaccinators and former patients, and the severity of infection. infections.
Omicron is clearly “highly transmissible”, perhaps more so than Delta, which is almost world-dominant, according to D.s Fauci.
He said the results of laboratory experiments on the effectiveness of antibodies from current vaccines should be known “in the next few days to within a week”.
Global epidemiological data also show a higher rate of re-infection with omicron and that the variant is possibly more immunogenic against vaccine immunity.
“But he’s sure no more serious than Delta,” said Anthony Fauci.
“There are some indications that it may be less serious,” he added.
He explained that studies currently in South Africa, where the variant was discovered in November, show that the ratio between pollution and the number of hospitalizations “appears to be less than delta”.
He cautioned that the data from South Africa should not be over-interpreted, however, as the population of this country has the peculiarity of being very young and less at risk of hospitalization, while severe forms can take several weeks to develop.
“I think it will take at least another two weeks in South Africa, and then when we have more infections in the rest of the world, it may take longer to see the true level of severity,” D said.s Fauci.
He explained that a virus more transmissible, but not causing a severe form or an increase in hospitalizations, would be the “most favorable scenario.”
He warned that “the worst-case scenario is infection with a virus that not only transmits easily, but causes severe forms of the disease and leads to another wave of infections that the vaccine or previous infections do not necessarily relieve.” the scientist.
“I don’t think the worst case scenario will happen,” he said, “but you never know.”
The Omicron variant is now present in at least 38 countries.
Even if it is not linked to any deaths at the moment, scientists are concerned about the unprecedented number of mutations, including about thirty in the spike protein, which is key to the virus’s entry into the body.
Its origin is still unknown, but there are two theories, according to Drs Fauci.
It may have developed in an immunocompromised patient, such as someone with HIV who did not fight off the virus quickly enough.
Or it can be transmitted from human to animal, and then back after mutating, in the case of “reverse zoonosis”.
To combat its spread, Anthony Fauci calls for caution, especially when traveling, and to wear a mask indoors if we don’t know the vaccination status of other people around. People who qualify for the third dose of the vaccine should get it as soon as possible.
The doctor said that studies, especially in Israel, show that the booster dose significantly increases the level of antibodies and the intensity of the immune response.
He stressed that it is still too early to know if this response is sustainable enough or whether it is necessary to consider other vaccines.
According to Ds Fauci.
The 80-year-old scientist who has become the face of the fight against COVID-19 has denounced misinformation slowing the vaccination campaign, especially in Republican-controlled states.
He expressed his regret, saying, “There are 60 million people eligible for vaccination who are not eligible for vaccination and in most cases for ideological reasons, this is unfortunate.”
“We must have a coherent public health response,” he concluded.
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