Fact Check By: Craig Jones, Newswise
Truthfulness: Mostly False
I can’t believe that after fully vaccinated travelers have been found to be the global spreaders of the omicron variant, we’re STILL talking about forcing people into being vaccinated.Claim Publisher and Date: Kim Iversen, on Twitter on 2021-11-28
The World Health Organization (WHO) has termed Omicron, the new strain of coronavirus, a “variant of concern”. According to the New York Times, "the newest coronavirus variant appears to spread more than twice as quickly as Delta, until now the most contagious version of the virus."
Kim Iversen, a popular political talk show host with over 27K followers on Twitter, claimed that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are global superspreaders of the new omicron variant. “I can’t believe that after fully vaccinated travelers have been found to be the global spreaders of the omicron variant, we’re STILL talking about forcing people into being vaccinated,” she wrote on Twitter. Her tweet was shared by thousands. We find this claim to be misleading, as it suggests that vaccines are useless against this new variant. There is very little data on how the omicron is being spread. It may take weeks to fully understand the new mutation. At the moment, we certainly don't know how this new mutation responds to vaccines.
Early data reported by scientists in South Africa - where the variant was first detected - suggests Omicron may evade some immunity to COVID-19, although experts caution the analysis is not definitive. We already know the variant is heavily mutated and officials in South Africa have said that it is leading to a surge in cases there. In an interview with BBC News, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association which first announced the discovery of the omicron variant, said that fully vaccinated omicron patients have shown mild symptoms so far. This suggests that the vaccines may be providing some protection from the severe symptoms of the COVID infection, as they've been proven to do with previous variants.* Thus, to conclude that vaccines are completely ineffective (and should not be mandated) is misleading.
Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech (Germany's BioNTech and Pfizer together produced one of the first vaccines against COVID-19), told Reuters on Friday that "that the new variant might infect vaccinated people but would likely prevent the need for hospital care."
As reported by Reuters...
"We think it's likely that people will have substantial protection against severe disease caused by Omicron," said BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin. He specified severe disease as requiring hospital or intensive care.
Sahin added he expects the lab tests to show some loss of vaccine protection against mild and moderate disease due to Omicron, but the extent of that loss was hard to predict.
On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, said lab studies strongly suggest that booster shots will give you cross protection against a “wide range” of Covid-19 variants, but noted it has not been proven yet. Urging Americans to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, he reiterated that the booster dose increases "the number of neutralizing antibodies against all the variants."
The longer the virus continues to replicate in humans the more likely it is that it will continue to evolve novel mutations that develop new ways to spread in the face of existing natural immunity, vaccines, and treatments, according to Jonathan Abraham, assistant professor of microbiology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School and an infectious disease specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. "That means that public health efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, including mass vaccinations worldwide as soon as possible, are crucial both to prevent illness and to reduce opportunities for the virus to evolve."