The European Union needs more time to fully assess the risks associated with the emergence of a new variant of the omicron coronavirus and to better prepare for the new situation, said the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who visited Latvia on Sunday.
– We know that this is a race against time, scientists and producers need two or three weeks to better understand the new variant – Ursula von der Leyen emphasized during a press conference in Latvia. During this time – according to the head of the European Commission – EU countries should pay attention to countermeasures, among which she indicated COVID-19 vaccines as the most important. She recalled that the Commission signed in May a third contract with BioNTech and Pfizer, according to which the European Union will be provided with another 1.8 billion doses of the preparation.
The contract includes a clause obliging the producers to adapt the vaccine to the new variant within 100 days from the moment when the tests show its resistance to the developed preparation, the Reuters agency reported.
A new variant of the coronavirus – omicron
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled the new coronavirus variant “worrying” it had detected in southern African countries. The variety known so far as B.1.1.529 received the name of the Greek letter omicron.
Discovered in South Africa on November 24, the omicron variant has so far been identified in EU-owned Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, and in Australia, Botswana, Israel, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
The researchers explained that significant differences in the image of the virus do not automatically mean that the variant is more dangerous, but that it has adapted even more to the human body.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / TOMS KALNINS