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Did vaccine inequality lead to emergence of Omicron variant?

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PARIS (AFP) — In October 2020, as scientists around the world raced to develop a vaccine to fight COVID-19, the leader of the World Health Organization warned against looming “vaccine nationalism.”

In a video address, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the time that the only way to beat the pandemic was by making sure poorer countries had fair access to a vaccine.

“When we have an effective vaccine, we must also use it effectively,” he said.

“And the best way to do that is to vaccinate some people in all countries rather than all people in some countries. Vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic, not shorten it.”

Over a year later, vaccine inequality is undeniable.

Rich nations like France and Japan have given at least one dose to over 75 percent of their populations.

In South Africa — where the Omicron variant was first sequenced — only a quarter of the population has been vaccinated. And is one of the highest inoculation rates on the continent.

But is vaccine inequality the reason behind Omicron’s emergence?

French experts tasked with informing their government’s pandemic response say Omicron likely came from a patient with a depressed immune system and is the result of a long line of mutations that accumulated during a chronic infection.

But wherever it came from, its spread would........

© The Times of Israel

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