January 29, 2022

The Tampa Herald

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Omicron variant, the world continues to tighten restrictions

3 min read

Germany finalizes a package of new restrictions, the United States tightens the requirements for entry into the country and the EU is considering a mandatory vaccination. The measures against the coronavirus are multiplying in different countries of the world due to the continuous expansion of the omicron variant.

Faced with its worst coronavirus wave since the start of the pandemic, Germany will decree on Thursday new measures such as the possible closure of bars and other public places while waiting to debate in parliament a possible mandatory vaccination.

The question is on the table of many governments. Austria plans to apply it from February, South Africa reflects on the matter and the same president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, invited European countries to address a debate on the matter.

For now, the action of many governments has been to limit international mobility despite the contrary opinion of the WHO and the UN, especially given the restrictions specifically imposed on southern Africa, where this new variant was first warned.

In the United States, which detected the first case of him in California, President Joe Biden will announce a new campaign against the pandemic focused on new requirements for travelers and an increase in the vaccination effort.
Starting “early next week,” all travelers entering the country must, in addition to being vaccinated, present a negative test carried out the day before their departure, the White House reported on Thursday.

On the other hand, Japan reversed on Thursday its drastic decision to suspend all new reservations for inbound flights to the country during December and allow the return of its nationals abroad.

Despite these limitations, the new variant, apparently more contagious and with multiple mutations, continues to reach new countries and is already present on all continents.

After announcing a case in its overseas territories, France detected another this Thursday on the European continent. Cases were also reported for the first time in India, Norway, Iceland or Ireland.

In America it has been detected in the United States, Canada and Brazil, although the Pan American Health Organization warned that soon this variant will probably be in circulation throughout the continent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that low rates of anticovid vaccination and diagnostic tests cause a “toxic cocktail.”

It is “an ideal combination for the reproduction and increase of variants” of the coronavirus, said its secretary general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Both the WHO and the UN advised against imposing generalized restrictions on travel, especially focused on southern African countries, which are subject to vetoes in multiple countries.

The border closures are “deeply unjust, punitive and ineffective,” denounced the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, describing the condemnation imposed on Africa for not having enough vaccines as a “scandal”.

Faced with the threat to economic growth posed by omicron, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) urged that “vaccines be produced and distributed as quickly as possible throughout the world.”

The most developed countries of the G20 spent 10 trillion dollars to protect their economy during the crisis, while vaccinating the entire planet would only cost 50 billion, lamented Laurence Boone, chief economist of the OECD.

There are doubts about the efficacy of existing vaccines against COVID against this new variant, recognized by the president of the American laboratory Moderna, Stephan Bancel.

Manufacturers such as Pfizer / BioNTech, Novavax, AstraZeneca or Moderna itself were confident in being able to develop a new drug against omicron. Russia announced working on a specific version of its Sputnik V.

At the same time, alternatives such as Merck’s anticovid pill, backed by a health panel in the United States, or the monoclonal antibody treatment of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which received the green light from the British regulator, began to appear.

 

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