By Jefferey Jaxen
Today, according to a statement released by the World Health Organization (WHO), the B.1.1.529 variant has been named as a Variant of Concern (VOC) and been given the name Omicron.
Nature.com is reporting “…it was first identified in Botswana earlier this month and has since turned up in a traveller arriving in Hong Kong from South Africa. Scientists are also trying to understand the variant’s properties, such as whether it can evade immune responses triggered by vaccines and whether it causes more or less severe disease than other variants do.“
One day before the WHO’s VOC statement, the Government of Botswana’s Presidential COVID-19 Task Force Coordinator Dr. K. Basupu released their statement regarding the variant detected in the country. Notably, the statement read
“The four (4) cases were detected among travelers who tested SARS-COV-2 positive on routine pre travel testing.” The statement went on to read “The preliminary report revealed that all four had been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.”
Another release put out on Twitter by the Botswana government recently went further to describe the individuals writing, “The new virus was detected on four foreign nationals who had entered Botswana on the 7th November 2021, on a diplomatic mission.
Already facing heavy-handed restrictions across much of Europe, the variant has now given the cover to press measures harder. Coming off the heels of last weekend’s record, global protests against COVID restrictions in numerous countries across the world, several countries are now announcing travel bans to South Africa and 7 other countries.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for all air travel to and from countries with reported cases of the new variant to be suspended until officials have a better understanding of the risk it poses. While the U.S. announced it would be halting travel to several African countries.
The chairwoman of the South African Medical Association has described the travel restrictions imposed on the country as “hasty” and the reaction from other countries as “a storm in a teacup”.
Dr Angelique Coetzee told BBC News: “We think it is a premature decision that has been taken, I think it is a hasty decision.
“I would understand if it was two weeks later and we know much more about this viral infection that is going around, or this mutation, but for now, it is like a storm in a teacup.
“We have only become aware of this viral mutation, or the new strain we are seeing, last week.”
She added: “From us as medical practitioners, we picked up, last week, the different clinical pictures, we looked at the advisory committees and so far what we have seen is very mild cases. [I’m] not sure why we are all up in arms.
The new variant, reportedly having the most mutations so far of any variant, is also allegedly demonstrating “immune evasion and enhanced transmissibility” reports CNN. Could this be the exact scenario the likes of which Vaccinologist, Geert Vanden Bossche, Ph.D., D.V.M. and other top scientists have warned about?
Watch the breaking new interview below as one of the world’s top vaccine experts warns of a COVID catastrophe