GENEVA– Despite the current uncertainty over the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, people should still get vaccinated because it will save lives, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Wednesday.
Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a WHO press briefing that the chances of those who have been fully vaccinated to develop severe COVID-19 diseases and die are significantly lower than of those who are not vaccinated.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty around Omicron … there’s no indication to suggest that the vaccines won’t work. Even if there is a reduction in efficacy, it’s still better to have the vaccine because it will save your life,” she said, urging countries to give all those at risk access to vaccines.
Also on Wednesday, the World Health Assembly’s (WHA) special three-day session that opened on Monday decided to establish an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) to draft and negotiate a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
The INB is scheduled to hold its first meeting by March 1, 2022, to agree on ways of working and timelines, and a second meeting by Aug. 1, 2022, to discuss progress on a working draft, according to a WHO statement.
It also plans to deliver a progress report to the 76th WHA in 2023 and submit its outcome for consideration by the 77th WHA in 2024.