Is the Omicron variant resistant to vaccines currently available in France?
Hard to say at the moment. “In theory, and given the many mutations observed, we can expect a decrease in the effectiveness of vaccines, acknowledged Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of the Agency for Emerging Infectious Diseases, during a press briefing by the Scientific Council on Monday, November 29. But the effectiveness can persist even if it is less. ““Everything is not white or black, added Bruno Lina, virologist and director of the national reference center in Lyon. The stake is precisely to understand the level of loss of protection which one can have. “
The first scientific evidence should arrive within two to three weeks, the time to measure in vitro, from a blood sample, the immune resistance of people vaccinated against the variant. The research was started in South Africa. In France, eight cases are considered suspect but no case has been confirmed for the time being. Virologists are therefore in the process of recovering the strain from their colleagues in the countries where it circulates.
Regarding treatments, the response of monoclonal antibodies could also be less good. On the other hand, specialists are more confident in antivirals. Merck’s molnupiravir and Pfizer’s paxlovid, two molecules currently being studied but not authorized in France, target a part of the virus little affected by the mutations.
Should we wait for a new vaccine for its booster dose?
No. The French government has called on all French adults to receive a booster dose against Covid-19 this winter. “The urgency is to face the rise of the fifth wave and the Delta variant to avoid the saturation of hospitals, recalled the epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet. Anything that is done to stop this wave will also be useful against the circulation of the Omicron variant. “
The question of whether this will replace the Delta is open. In South Africa, it appeared at a time when the Delta was circulating little and took its place. Corn “Conditions are very different in Europe, both in terms of the variants in circulation and in terms of vaccination coverage”, reacted Jean-François Delfraissy, at the head of the scientific council. According to him, the recall must “Focus primarily on populations over 50, the most vulnerable and caregivers”. A remark that questions the government’s strategy to extend the recall to all: according to The Parisian, 64% of the appointments made on the Doctolib platform were made by people under the age of 50, more digitally experienced.
On the side of the manufacturers of RNA vaccines, Pfizer has announced a deadline of around 100 days to develop a new vaccine corresponding to the Omicron variant, if it becomes necessary. Time to which it will still be necessary to add mass production and deployment logistics.
► Against variants, isn’t good global immunization coverage more necessary than a booster?
International solidarity, or rather its absence, has been singled out by many African politicians. As Western countries attack their recall campaigns against Covid-19, less than a quarter of South Africa’s population is vaccinated. “The planet will come out of this crisis only when all countries are safe, to limit the opportunities for the emergence of variants, and this episode reminds us of that”, hammered Arnaud Fontanet.
However, there is no question of opposing recall in France and deployment of vaccination elsewhere. For the scientific council, both are possible given the number of doses available. “On a planetary scale, the issue is logistical, with sometimes underdeveloped healthcare systems and populations that are difficult to reach, confirms the epidemiologist. It is also a question of pedagogy with reluctant people. “ In France, just over six million people eligible for vaccination have still not received a first dose.