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Virus czar: Vaccines should work against Omicron variant

Coronavirus czar Salman Zarka says vaccines likely work against the Omicron strain, though he notes that the emergence of the viral mutant presents a “complicated situation.”

“There’s uncertainty; we need to decide what is correct to do with the uncertainty; I think the cabinet made the right choices,” he says, according to Ynet.

He adds that “there’s no room for panic. The vaccine gives us good protection, especially against severe cases, and so it’s important to get vaccinated.”

Others have expressed less certainty regarding the vaccine’s efficacy against the variant.

“At least from a speculative point of view we have some optimism that the vaccine should still work against a new variant for serious disease, but really we need to wait several weeks to have that confirmed,” Prof. Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, which developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, tells BBC radio.

A number of pharmaceutical firms, including AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer, say they have plans in place to adapt their vaccines in light of the emergence of Omicron. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech say they expect to be able to tweak their vaccine in around 100 days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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