Biontech / Pfizer vaccine (symbol image)
Photo: POOL / REUTERS
It is not yet completely clear how the new mutant of the coronavirus will react with the vaccines that have been used up to now.
However, initial results from South Africa, where the variant was first identified, give cause for concern.
According to a study, the vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer apparently only offers partial protection against the coronavirus variant Omikron.
The neutralization of Omikron has "decreased very much" compared to an earlier Covid strain, said Alex Sigal, professor at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa based on preliminary results on Tuesday.
The laboratory tested the blood of twelve people who were vaccinated with the Biontech / Pfizer vaccine, according to the study published on the laboratory's website.
A 41-fold decrease in neutralizing antibodies against the Omikron variant was observed.
The preliminary data have not yet been reviewed by peers.
BioNTech boss Ugur Sahin assumes that the data on the effectiveness of the vaccine against the Omikron variant could be available on Wednesday or Thursday.
There are also no meaningful studies on how the vaccines from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and other drug manufacturers behave against the new variant.
A milder course is possible
Leading U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that preliminary results would suggest the variant likely had a higher degree of communicability but was less severe.
In more than 50 countries around the world, people have already been proven to be infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The number of confirmed cases is particularly high in three countries: 228 Omicron infections were confirmed in South Africa, plus tens of thousands of suspected cases.
Cases skyrocketed in South Africa
In Denmark, the authorities registered 261 cases - and the number is growing rapidly.
According to the Danish State Health Institute, 73 cases were detected by whole genome sequencing, 188 infections were confirmed with a variant PCR test.
In Great Britain, too, more and more infections with the new variant are being registered.
There are currently 336 confirmed cases.
The pace at which the number of cases is increasing is particularly worrying: the number of Omikron cases almost doubled from Friday to Sunday alone.
Much is not yet known about Omikron.
It is unclear, for example, whether the variant leads to milder disease courses or to what extent it could evade immunity from previous Covid 19 diseases or vaccines.
The developments in the current number of infections indicate that Omikron could be very contagious.
In South Africa - where Omikron does not necessarily have to have originated, but where it was first discovered - the number of cases rose from less than 200 sick people per day at the beginning of November to more than 16,000 new infections every day at the beginning of December.
More than 90 percent of the new cases could be due to Omikron.
jok / Reuters