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COVID-19: Emergence of newer, more dangerous variants possible – NCDC

…says available vaccines 80% effective against Omicron variant

As Nigeria records its first three cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant through three passengers with travel history to South Africa, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has warned that newer and more dangerous variants of the virus could emerge from unvaccinated populations.

Director General of NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, who made this known on Wednesday in Abuja, appealed to the public to interrupt further transmission of the Omicron virus as well as newer and more dangerous variants by getting vaccinated and ensure adherence to the proven safety measures such as wearing face masks, regular hand washing and physical distancing.

He said: “Continued transmission as seen in largely unvaccinated populations from which this new variant has emerged also encourages the emergence of newer and possibly more dangerous variants. Interrupting transmission of the virus remains our best defence against this virus and path to returning to normalcy.

“We appeal to business owners, religious leaders, and people in authority to take responsibility by ensuring people in their premises adhere to these measures. We strongly urge Nigerians to only share information from trusted sources including NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health. Our safety as a country depends on our collective responsibility.”

The NCDC also urged state governments to curb community transmission of the Omicron variant by ensuring sample collection and testing remain widely accessible, to enable people who have symptoms or have been exposed to a positive case get tested quickly in healthcare and other settings.

Meanwhile, the NCDC boss has said the available vaccines could be 80 percent effective against the newly discovered Omicron variant saying: “We believe even if this particular variant has any impact on vaccination may be reducing its protective effect, it is not going to be equal to full abrogation.”

Adetifa, who spoke during a live TV show on ‘Channels Television’ and monitored by our correspondent, maintained that “theoretically speaking, if the vaccine was 90 percent against severe disease and death from delta, maybe it will reduce it to 80 percent against Omicron.

“The issue is while we work out the impact of this strain will have on vaccine protective effect, the point remains that vaccines are effective, safe and conferred protection and people should get vaccinated.”

 

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