“We still have more questions than answers about the effect of the omicron on transmission, disease severity, and the effectiveness of tests, treatments and vaccines,” said the Director-General of the World Health Organization.
He added that it is understood that countries want to protect their citizens “against a mutator that we have not yet fully understood”, yet he feared that the travel suspension would be unfair, calling for “the global response to be calm, coordinated and coherent.”
In a related context, the United Nations organization said in a guidance document, published on Tuesday, that the travel ban will not stop the spread of the mutator, and called on countries to adopt an approach based on risk assessment.
But the document also advised those over the age of sixty, and the weak, to postpone travel.
The organization said that “the general travel ban will not prevent the spread in the world, and places a heavy burden on the conduct of life and livelihoods.” “People who are not in good health or at risk of infection, including people over the age of 60, should be advised to postpone travel,” she added.
For his part, the German chancellor, who won the elections, indicated his support for the imposition of compulsory vaccines, and a source in the left-wing Social Democratic Party told AFP that he “expressed his sympathy with such legislation.”
Schulz held crisis talks with regional leaders and was scheduled to meet with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel about imposing new restrictions amid a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
The German Constitutional Court has ruled that blanket restrictions such as curfews, school closures and communication restrictions are legal, and that could pave the way for further restrictions.
The head of the American “Moderna” laboratories expressed pessimism about the effectiveness of the currently available vaccines against the mutated virus at a time when new health restrictions are doubling in the world, as happened in the United Kingdom and Japan on Tuesday.
Moderna President Stefan Bansel told the Financial Times that data on the effectiveness of current vaccines will be available within the next two weeks, but scientists are not optimistic in this regard, saying: “All the scientists I spoke to said that the situation would not be good.”
But several laboratories, including “AstraZeneca”, “Pfizer/Biontech” and “Novavax”, have expressed confidence in the ability of their vaccines to combat “Omicron”.
A spokeswoman for the “Fire” company confirmed to Al-Hurra website that it is working to develop a new vaccine to deal with the new mutant of the Corona virus “Omicron” in case it is needed, but she stressed her confidence in the current version, saying: “No mutantes escape from our vaccine.”
For its part, Russia announced that it is developing a version of “Sputnik-V” that specifically targets the new mutator, if the currently available vaccine is not effective, “which is unlikely.”
And the American biotechnology company “Regeneron” announced Tuesday that its treatment with synthetic antibodies to Covid-19 may be less effective against the new mutant and is planning to conduct tests to determine the effectiveness.
Tightening around the world
The new mutation, which was discovered in South Africa last week, has spread to all continents, from Canada to Italy, through Japan, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom, where six new infections were confirmed on Monday.
This prompted many countries to suspend flights with South Africa and other countries in the south of the continent and impose preventive measures, and the most vaccine-providing countries urged their residents to obtain a third dose.
In the United Kingdom, one of the countries most affected by the epidemic (145,000 deaths), the mandatory re-imposition of the muzzle in transport and stores, and all travelers arriving in Britain must undergo a “PCR” test and quarantine until the result is issued.
From this weekend, London will close its borders to non-British people from 10 African countries: South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola.
The Netherlands announced that 14 travelers who arrived this weekend from South Africa were infected with Omicron. Dutch authorities said, on Tuesday, that the mutant was circulating in the country on November 19, about a week before South Africa announced its discovery.
France reported the discovery of the first infection, on Tuesday, on the island of La Reunion, and recommended the vaccination of children between the ages of 5 and 11 years, who are at risk of developing severe symptoms of the disease.
In Asia, Japan, three weeks after easing some restrictions, banned “all foreign nationals” from Tuesday, and the government confirmed the first infection, on Tuesday, for a man returning from Namibia.
Also, Israel, where it was confirmed that a traveler returning from Malawi was infected with Omicron, banned the entry of foreigners into its territory from Sunday.
In South Africa, the majority of new infections are linked to Omicron, and the government expects an accelerated increase in the number of infections.
These data suggest that the mutant has a great potential for spread and reminds the need for vaccination on a global scale as the only means capable of providing a global immune cover to control the epidemic, at a time when Africa is still among the least immunized.
South Africa, which considers itself “punished” for revealing the presence of the new mutant, called for the “immediate and urgent” lifting of travel restrictions, considering it “unfortunate” that some African countries are also taking these measures.
For his part, US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned, on Monday, that the variable may cast a shadow on the economy and inflation, stressing “the risks of a decline in employment and economic activity.”
Global stock markets and oil prices fell clearly.
China admitted Tuesday that Omicron will make it difficult to host the Winter Olympics scheduled for next February, but confirmed its confidence in the possibility of the event’s success.