Covid-19: G7 and WHO warn of high risk of omicron variant | Society

Notice to readers: EL PAÍS keeps essential information about the coronavirus open during the crisis. If you want to support our journalism, click here to subscribe.

G7 Health Ministers, currently under the UK presidency, highlighted that “the global community” faces “the threat of a highly contagious new variant of covid-19, which requires urgent action.” The variant of omicron, detected last week in South Africa, also triggered alarms by the World Health Organization (WHO), which warned this Monday in a technical document that the global risk of omicron “is assessed as very high” and demand extreme precautions. The scientific community is still not sure that this version of the virus is more transmissible and escapes vaccines, but the first signs and more than 30 mutations detected in this variant precipitated a chain reaction halfway around the world to prevent the expansion of omicron: countries the European Union, the United States, Israel and Morocco, among others, have closed their borders to flights from southern Africa, although the virus has already penetrated into several European states.

British Health Minister Sajid Javid announced on Sunday his intention to urgently bring together his colleagues from the seven most industrialized nations, and they all participated in a videoconference early Monday morning. At least five cases of people infected with the omicron variant have already been detected in England and another six in Scotland. The Boris Johnson Administration has extended the vaccine booster campaign to everyone over the age of 18 and has cut the time required between the second and third injections from six to three months. Portugal detected an outbreak of covid-19 by omicron in a football team and other countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany, among others, reported cases of this variant. Also in Spain, a case of infection with the new variant was detected on Monday in a 51-year-old man who traveled from South Africa to Madrid.

In the joint statement from the G7 ministers, released at the end of the meeting, they praised “South Africa’s exemplary work both in detecting the variant and alerting the rest. [dos países]”. The gesture comes after the WHO criticized the response of Western countries to the South African warning, isolating this country with the closing of borders: the director of the health agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, insisted on Monday that South Africa “should be grateful and not penalized” for this finding. The President of the United States, Joe Biden, for his part, called for calm. “[A nova variante ômicron] it is cause for concern, but not for panic,” he said in a speech at the White House, accompanied by the US Government’s chief epidemiologist, Antony Fauci. Biden added that experts do not believe that “additional measures” are needed in the country, which is “better off” than at Christmas last year, reports EFE.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director of the World Health Organization, sits on a press wheel.Laurent Gillieron/ AP/ VIDEO: REUTERS

The G7 ministers also expressed their support for greater information sharing and the creation of “an international pathogen surveillance network under the parameters of the World Health Organization”. WHO was meeting on Monday at an extraordinary assembly to negotiate a treaty to prepare for an upcoming pandemic. “Our ability to end this pandemic is testament to our collective ability to effectively prevent and respond to future pandemics, because the same principles apply: courageous leadership, faithfulness to science, generosity in sharing the fruits of research and an unwavering commitment with equity and solidarity,” proclaimed Tedros at the opening of the WHO assembly.

The G7 also puts its finger on the wound when remembering the need for vaccines to reach the entire population, and recalls that this means strengthening “the capacity of countries to absorb the arrival of vaccines, as well as their preparation to be able to distribute them”. For this reason, the G7 reaffirms its commitment to “facilitate operational assistance, promote the fulfillment of donation pledges [de vacinas] and fight misinformation, in addition to facilitating research and development”. According to the WHO, however, inequality in access to vaccines persists: more than 80% of the world’s vaccines were destined for the G20 countries, while low-income countries, most of them in Africa, received only 0.6% of vaccines, recalled the director of WHO.

The G7 promised to meet again during the month of December. Jonathan Van-Tam, chief medical director of England’s National Health Service, estimated the time needed for the international scientific community to determine the real threat posed by the omicron variant in three weeks, and also to know what response it triggers among those who received it. double vaccination, as well as in those who have already received the third booster dose.

sign up on here to receive EL PAÍS Brasil’s daily newsletter: reports, analyses, exclusive interviews and the main information of the day in your e-mail, from Monday to Friday. sign up also to receive our weekly newsletter on Saturdays, with highlights of coverage for the week.

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

Check Also

see the numbers drawn today in the contest

The numbers 18-30-32-35-40-48 were drawn by Caixa in the Mega-Sena contest 2448, held last Thursday …