Vladimir Putin has compared omicron to a “live vaccine”, downplaying the potential risks posed by the variant which has now lapped the globe.
On Tuesday the Russian President suggested fears about omicron, a highly mutated coronavirus strain which is designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, may turn out to be “premature”.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Mr Putin said. “They say it’s not that virulent. Some specialists even call it a live vaccine.”
Live vaccines include an attenuated, or weakened, form of the virus that causes a particular disease to trigger an immune response that will generate protective antibodies, but is not strong enough to make an individual sick. The measles mumps and rubella (MMR) and yellow fever vaccines both include attenuated virus, for instance.
There has been some early evidence from South Africa suggesting that omicron may trigger milder disease than previous variants.
A study of 166 patients in hospitals in the Tshwane district of Gauteng province – the epicentre of the omicron outbreak – shows that patients are predominantly younger than those hospitalised in the first and second waves of the pandemic, and they are less likely to need oxygen…