‘Vaccination the best tool to fight new COVID variant’ – Pres. Ali

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Concerns over the new COVID-19 variant- called the ‘Omicron’ variant’- have been mounting, but President Dr. Irfaan Ali says that the use of the COVID-19 vaccines are people’s best chance at remaining protected against the deadly disease.

The emergence of this Omicron variant was reported last week and since then, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that this variant poses a very high risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases and other severe consequences for countries.

Dr. Ali, during a brief pre-recorded address disseminated on Monday, related that early information suggests that the variant could be highly infectious and more easily transmissible.

This was also highlighted by the Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony during his COVID-19 update on Friday. And what this means is that the infection can spread much easier and it is possible that it may cause people to become sicker.

Scientists around the world, however, have said that further research is needed to understand the real effect of the variant.

And, President Ali said, “If it is that this variant is far more infectious then the only thing that can protect us is the vaccination, the only thing that can slow hospitalisation is vaccination, the only thing that can slow death rates and actually very successfully is vaccination.”

He continued by emphasising that the only tool countries have to protect its people from the Omicron variant, or any other mutations of the coronavirus, are the COVID-19 vaccines.

In Guyana, vaccines are available for every individual aged 12 years and old; efforts are being made to secure vaccines for children aged five to 11 years old too.

Importantly, scientists have also stated that further research is needed to assess how effective the existing vaccines would be against this new variant.

In the interim, Britain for example, has expanded its COVID-19 booster programme to allow all adults to receive the added protection against COVID-19.

Local authorities have started to provide booster doses to frontline workers, people over 50 years old and to anyone who has underlying medical conditions (comorbidities) and is aged 18 years or older.

And, Dr. Ali called on Guyanese eligible to receive these booster shots to get vaccinated and protect themselves.

Variants are caused when viruses mutate- that is, they undergo certain changes that can modify their ability to infect people’s cells.

Over the past few months, the Delta variant of COVID-19 has become the dominant strain of COVID-19- accounting for much of the new infections and deaths worldwide.

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