A scientist at the West African Center for Cell Biology Pathogen, University of Ghana, Dr. Yaw Bediako has explained that the new variant of COVID-19, omicron, is able to overpass the vaccines that are in the system.
He assured that research has shown that the spread of omicron in the areas that vaccinations are high are lower.
Dr. Bediako made the observations in an interview with 3FM’s Sunrise hosted by Alfred Ocansey on Wednesday while commenting on the spread of omicron in Ghana.
The immunologist said “the spread of omicrons is high. Once we have seen it…its means it is spreading but how deadly it …we don’t know…there is still more we have to do”.
He said “most cases that have been reported are milled. Many of the cases are milled.
“Omicron is able to overpass the vaccine so that means the vaccines that we have are less efficient than omicron but the vaccines are protecting people”.
Dr. Bediako explained that “even if you have been vaccinated, omicron can still affect you, but it is significantly lower in areas where vaccines are higher”.
“Omicron can invade the vaccines and that means the longer the virus may take, the vaccines will lose its efficacy”, he explained.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the new coronavirus variant Omicron is spreading across the globe at an unprecedented rate.
Cases of the heavily mutated variant have been confirmed in 77 countries.
But at a press conference, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was probably in many others that had yet to detect it.
Dr Tedros said he was concerned that not enough was being done to tackle the variant.
“Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril. Even if Omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” he said.
The Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa in November, and the country has since seen a surge in infections. President Cyril Ramaphosa has tested positive for Covid-19, and is currently isolating with mild symptoms.
A number of countries have introduced travel bans affecting South Africa and its neighbours following the emergence of Omicron, but this has failed to stop it from spreading around the world.
In the press conference on Tuesday, Dr Tedros reiterated concerns about vaccine inequity, as some countries accelerate rollouts of a booster shot in response to Omicron.
Recent studies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine showed it produced far fewer neutralising antibodies against Omicron than against the original strain, but that this deficit could be reversed by a third, booster, jab.
Dr Tedros said boosters “could play an important role” in curbing the spread of Covid-19, but that it was “a question of prioritisation”.
“The order matters. Giving boosters to groups at low risk of severe disease or death simply endangers the lives of those at high risk who are still waiting for their primary doses because of supply constraints,” he said.
Supplies to the global vaccine-sharing programme Covax have increased in recent months.
However, world health officials fear a shortfall of tens of millions of doses – like the one which occurred in the middle of this year when India suspended its vaccine exports – could happen again.
In poorer countries, some vulnerable people are yet to receive a single dose.