• The New York Times reports that many widely used coronavirus vaccines are unlikely to prevent infections with the Omicron variant, although they will still be effective against serious illness and death. So far, only triple-doses of mRNA vaccines appear to offer protection against Omicron infections. Laboratory experiments have found that Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, which have been given to 1.6 billion people in China and are or have been used in countries including Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, are unable to prevent Omicron infections. In addition, laboratory research found that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been given to 90 percent of vaccinated people in India and used across much of sub-Saharan Africa (where Covax, has distributed 67 million doses of it to 44 countries), offered no protection against Omicron infection. The J & J vaccine has shown scant protection against Omicron, and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine – which has been used in Latin America – is expected to be equally ineffective.

Some public health experts think that countries that have endured brutal waves of COVID, such as Brazil and India, may have a buffer against Omicron, since vaccination after infection produces high antibody levels. But the opposite is true for China, which has embraced a “zero COVID” strategy. Omicron may be devastating, because the population lacks exposure – and the available vaccines are ineffective against Omicron.

Dr. Seth Berkley, Gavi’s chief executive of Gavi, said that more data was needed before drawing conclusions about vaccines’ effectiveness against Omicron — and that accelerated vaccination should continue to be the focus of pandemic response. But others are concerned about the impact of Omicron on demand for vaccines. J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, said “This challenges the whole value of vaccines. If you’re so far behind and then you suffer this, it’s going to feed anti-vaccine sentiment and weaken confidence.” Source

• As top UK health advisors recommend additional measures to control an explosion of coronavirus cases, and the British Medical Association warns that almost 50,000 healthcare workers could be out sick by Christmas unless the government acts, Health Secretary Sajid Javid says that the government needs to balance scientific advice with the impact that measures such as lockdowns have on society, businesses and children. He added that the UK is in a different situation now than earlier in the year because of its vaccination program, with over half of adults having received a booster dose. Source

• Just days after preventive measures were relaxed in New South Wales, an Omicron-driven surge of 2,556 new daily coronavirus cases has put Premier Dominic Perrottet under pressure to reintroduce mandatory indoor mask-wearing and QR code check-ins. Source

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