SWITZERLAND,AUSTRALIA,GERMANY: Wealthy countries may start to hoard Covid-19 vaccines again, threatening global supplies as they seek to shore up stocks to fight the new Omicron variant of the virus, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Thursday.
The warning by the head of WHO’s department of immunisation, vaccines and biologicals, Dr Kate O’Brien, comes as supplies to the Covax dose-sharing programme run by the WHO and vaccine charity GAVI have increased in the past few months due to donations from wealthy countries and after India eased limits on exports of vaccines.
“What is going to shut down disease is for everybody who is especially at risk of disease to become vaccinated,” said Dr O’Brien. “We seem to be taking our eye off that ball in countries.”
Meanwhile, three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine appear effective against the Omicron variant, a lab test indicated — encouraging news, even as Denmark and Britain announced new restrictions to stem surging caseloads.
In preliminary results published on Wednesday, the US and German companies behind one of the world’s foremost shots to combat COVID-19 said a booster generated around the same level of potent antibodies against omicron as is seen after a second dose with the initial strain. The announcement, which has not yet been peer reviewed, was called reassuring by experts, and came as the first independent data from labs around the world emerged, indicating the new mutations are better at evading immunity from infections and vaccines than those before them. Meanwhile, More than 70 per cent of Australians say they want a coronavirus booster vaccine, a new survey published on Thursday revealed.
Researchers from Australian National University (ANU) published the latest findings from their ongoing survey of more than 3,400 people during the pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.
It found that 71.9 per cent of the respondents said they will get a booster vaccine when available.
However, it did reveal portions of the population that are hesitant about boosters.
Booster vaccines are currently available to Australians aged 18 and over six months after their second shot.
Till date, 93.1 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over had received one vaccine dose and 88.7 per cent were fully inoculated, according to the Department of Health.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 transmission at bars and end-of-year parties is contributing to a steep increase in cases in New South Wales including outbreaks in three venues across Sydney, NSW Health has said.
There were 516 new COVID-19 cases reported in the Australian state on Friday, the highest daily number since 580 cases were reported on October 9 – the weekend before Sydney’s months-long lockdown lifted.
NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty said the department was concerned about increased transmission in venues such as pubs, clubs and party settings.
– THE HINSUSTAN TIMES, IANS, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, ARAB NEWS