Scientists Blame Vaccine Inequity for Emergence of Omicron Variant

COVID-19 vaccine
Source: Freepik

As countries scramble to prevent an outbreak of the new variant, experts are blaming its emergence on the existing vaccine inequity.

The emergence of the newly discovered Omicron variant has sent the world into a state of frenzy. Multiple countries have now closed their borders and enforced travel restrictions for foreigners. The variant which was recently termed a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) seems to contain a large number of mutations. Thus, raising concerns of the strain’s potentially increased transmissibility. As a result, several countries have started administering booster doses among people. However, experts believe the rising vaccine inequity is likely to blame for the increase in new variants.

At a recent Special Session of the World Health Assembly, WHO’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom called out Western countries for hoarding vaccines. And contributing to the emergence of the new variant. He further emphasized vaccine inequity; 80% of the world’s vaccines have gone to G20 countries. Whereas low-income countries have only received 0.6% of all vaccines. Moreover, in places such as Africa, just one in four health workers have received a vaccine, while the West has moved to give boosters to healthy adults.

No country can vaccinate its way out of the pandemic alone. The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more opportunity this virus has to spread and evolve in ways we cannot predict nor prevent. We are all in this together.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general

Thank, Not Penalize

WHO has called on the world to thank countries such as South Africa and Botswana for their early reporting and sequencing of the new variant. Moreover, they cautioned against imposing travel bans for South African nations. Leading health experts have labelled the bans as a political move, and not one backed by science. Therefore, they are calling for a more balanced and scientific approach for reducing transmission among the masses.

It is still not clear whether the Omicron variant is more transmissible or contagious than the other strains. Nor do scientists know how the current COVID-19 vaccines fare against the variant. But an equal distribution of the vaccines is predicted to suppress the emergence of any new variant.

Source: World Health Organization


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