Omicron 4x More Infectious Than Delta, WHO Says Vaccines Should Not Mix

Omicron 4x More Infectious Than Delta, WHO Says Vaccines Should Not Mix

The number of confirmed cases of the omicron variant has topped 1,000 worldwide, and already Britain's health ministry is warning that it expects at least 1MM cases of omicron in the UK alone, as it expects the new strain to supplant delta due to its sheer transmissibility. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.

The data is still rolling in on both transmissibility and what appears to be significantly reduced severity vs. Delta, but on Thursday Bloomberg noted a Japanese study which found that omicron is 4.2x more transmissible than delta.

The scientist who shared the findings is an official advisor of the Japanese government, which was one of the first governments to close it borders in response to the threat posed by omicron.

Given widespread reports that Omicron is a far more mild strain of Covid, some experts (including the WHO) have insisted that measures like border closures and travel bans targeting southern African nations are, at present, overkill. Earlier this week, the CDC published data showing that only one out of every 43 patients confirmed to be infected with omicron has been hospitalized.

What's more, over three-quarters of those who have been confirmed to have caught omicron were vaccinated. And one-third had received a booster. So far, no deaths due to omicron have been reported.

When it comes to transmissibility - Hiroshi Nishiura, professor of health and environmental sciences at Kyoto University who specializes in mathematical modeling of infectious diseases, said he analyzed genome data available through Nov. 26. from confirmed Omicron cases in South Africa's Gauteng province.

He concluded that "The omicron variant transmits more, and escapes immunity built naturally and through vaccines more."

His findings were presented at a meeting of the health ministry’s advisory panel on Wednesday.

To be sure, Nishiura’s study hasn’t been peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal. The new analysis was conducted using the same method he used in a July study on the delta variant published by the Eurosurveillance medical journal.

"The vaccination rate was less than 30% and many people were probably naturally infected," Nishiura said. "We need to pay close attention to future trends to see if the same thing will happen in countries where mRNA vaccines are used at a high rate."

Don't mix and match?

Moving on to more omicron news from Thursday's session, the WHO has warned that patients should try to take doses of the same jab, and that only those in countries with tight vaccine supplies should mix and match. The UN-tied agency's panel of expert advisors made the conclusion, according to Bloomberg.

"We still believe the best approach is to use the same vaccine for the two primary doses," said Alejandro Cravioto, chairman of the panel, at a briefing Thursday.

If patients can't take the same vaccine, then they should try to take a jab from the same group (another mRNA jab for those who have received Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech's jab, or another adenovirus vector jab for those who got the J&J, AstraZeneca or the Russian or Chinese jabs.

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