FDA: Unclear If Omicron Variant Will Require Vaccine Modification, Urges Vaccination and Boosters

Renata Gomes

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On November 30th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a statement on the potential impacts of the Omicron variant.

The agency warns that the work to obtain genetic information and patient samples for variants to perform the necessary tests to evaluate the impact of a variant takes time, but expects the vast majority of this work to be completed in the coming weeks.

Regarding vaccination, the FDA claims there's no conclusive information on how well the COVID-19 vaccines currently on the market will work against the omicron variant, and it's possible that these vaccines need to be modified to target that variant more specifically.

Furthermore, the FDA highlights that full vaccination with the addition of a booster shot is still the best way to prevent a COVID-19 infection and also lower the risk of serious outcomes such as hospitalization and death. The use of facemasks is also recommended to prevent the spread of omicron.

The FDA is currently working alongside federal partners, international regulators, and medical companies to address the issue, stating there are contingency plans already in place, and that it's important to pivot as the virus adapts.

The omicron variant was originally identified in Africa, but scientists are now discovering the variant was already in Europe before it appeared in the African continent.

The evolution of omicron and its impact is still an ongoing story. Dr Angelique Coetzee, the doctor who first identified omicron in South Africa, has claimed that so far patients infected with the variant have shown "extremely mild" symptoms (source).

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