Omicron could offer ‘natural Covid immunity’ without need for boosters, says EMA – RFI English

Omicron could offer ‘natural Covid immunity’ without need for boosters, says EMA – RFI English

Issued on: 12/01/2022 – 14:11

The European Union drugs watchdog has voiced doubt over the need for a fourth Covid booster, saying the Omicron variant could help turn the coronavirus into an endemic disease that people can live with by naturally boosting their immune systems. 

Conceding more data was needed to support the hypothesis, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Tuesday said repeated boosters risked overloading people’s immune systems and was not a “sustainable” strategy.

“Nobody knows exactly when we will be at the end of the tunnel but we will be there,” Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccine strategy at the Amsterdam-based regulator, told journalists.

“With the increase of immunity in population – and with Omicron, there will be a lot of natural immunity taking place on top of vaccination – we will be fast moving towards a scenario that will be closer to endemicity.”

‘Still a pandemic’

However Cavaleri also spoke of Omicron’s huge burden on healthcare systems, saying the world should not forget “we are still in a pandemic”.

Countries, he added, should start thinking about spacing out the time between boosters at longer intervals, and synchronising them with the start of the cold season like flu vaccines.

Separately the EMA said studies had shown the risk of hospitalisation from Omicron was between a third and half of that posed by the Delta strain, despite the fact Omicron was more contagious.

Earlier Tuesday, the World Health Organization said more than half of people in Europe – the epicentre of the pandemic – were on track to catch the variant within the next two months.

Meanwhile the EMA is working with vaccine developers to determine whether there is a need for an updated vaccine.

(with wires)


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