The head of Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination (StiKo), Thomas Mertens, said he did not expect possible new vaccines against the omicron variant of the coronavirus for months, according to a report on Saturday.
He said it was entirely possible that a new vaccine would be needed to be effective against the omicron variant.
“Omicron has many changes to the spike protein, which could make it harder for antibodies to fight the virus,” he told the Düsseldorf-based newspaper Rheinische Post.
“Three to six months is likely to be needed by the manufacturers in the laboratory. That’s not trivial — they have to create a vaccine that works against omicron and delta because delta is still widespread,” the StiKo chief said.
He also urged people to get booster shots despite a possible new vaccine.
“Boosters are definitely worth it. The fight against the delta variant continues,” Mertens said. “And it would be no problem to get revaccinated a few months after the booster vaccination to protect against omicron if necessary.”
Germany reported 64,510 new infections in the last 24 hours, while 378 more people died due to the coronavirus, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The new figures take the country’s total cases to more than 6.1 million, and 102,946 new fatalities.
The seven-day incidence rose slightly to 442.7 from 442.1 the previous day, RKI reported.
Here are some more coronavirus headlines from around the world:
Australia reported 13 cases of the omicron coronavirus variant in Sydney, its largest city, and another infection in the state of Queensland. The spread of the new variant comes amid plans to reopen the economy.
Federal authorities are sticking with their reopening plan, hoping omicron would be milder than the previous strains. State governments, however, are moving to tighten their border controls. The country reported its first locally transmitted cases of the variant on Friday.
The Cook Islands reported its very first case of COVID-19 on Saturday just as the Pacific island nation began reopening to tourists.
A 10-year-old boy who was in quarantine after arriving from New Zealand on a repatriation flight with his family on Thursday tested positive, Prime Minister Mark Brown said in a statement.
About 96% of the island’s population of 17,000 people are double-vaccinated, giving it one of the top vaccination rates globally.
South Korea reported 5,252 new cases, a record increase in daily COVID infections, and 70 deaths, while confirming nine cases of the omicron variant, the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Authorities have mandated vaccine passes for people visiting restaurants, cinemas, and other public spaces, and reduced private gatherings to six people in the greater Seoul area, from the current 10, starting Monday.
Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes instructed the country’s top prosecutor to investigate President Jair Bolsonaro for comments linking COVID-19 vaccines to AIDS.
In an October 24 broadcast, the president said that “official reports from the UK government suggest that fully vaccinated people … are developing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome much faster than anticipated.” Doctors and scientists have rejected the assertion.
The United States confirmed a further spread of the Omicron virus after reporting its first case earlier this week in California.
The new strain spread to six more states — New Jersey, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Experts, however, said the delta variant likely remains a greater threat as winter sets in, and people in the US gather for the holidays.
adi/rs (AFP, Reuters, AP)
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