“The scientific community has generated very important results in terms of influencing the decision in terms of public health and the decision of the various governments, and this has naturally gone well and I think this is how it should be”, said the researcher at the National Institute, Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA), in statements to Lusa news agency regarding the appearance of 13 cases in Portugal of this new variant of SARS-CoV 2.
According to the microbiologist, the population should not “panic” about the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus detected in South Africa.
He said he expects that within two / three weeks the major pharmaceutical companies and institutions that are involved in antibody neutralization will release data that "is consistent enough" to "draw a more serious conclusion about this new variant."
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned today that the global risk posed by the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus is "very high".
For the coordinator of the study on the genetic diversity of the new coronavirus in Portugal, there should have been “a little more caution” on the part of the WHO, since there is still no data to say that Omicron is a more severe variant.
“I think that panic was launched in a slightly unnecessary way, even by the World Health Organization itself. I think there should be a little more prudence”, he defended.
João Paulo Gomes stated that there are "reasons for concern", as this variant is characterised by "an abnormally high number of mutations in the surface protein [Spike]".
“Many of these mutations, the scientific community already knows that they can impact the transmissibility, as well as binding to our antibodies and, therefore, we have the right to think: are vaccines in danger? Is it more transmissible. The answer is we don't know”, he stressed.
The investigator recalled that it is all very recent: "We are talking about cases with two, three weeks around the world, therefore, she will still have a very much residual circulation".
“Otherwise we wouldn't have this very residual number of cases detected around the world,” he said.