Jaap van Dissel, the head of the Dutch infectious disease prevention centre, has said the Netherlands needs to speed up its booster campaign to protect people against the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Van Dissel cited research in the UK that indicates the new variant was two to three times more infectious than the Delta variant. Cases of Omicron in the UK are currently doubling every two to three days, British prime minister Boris Johnson said this week.
Studies also indicate that the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was only given to a small number of people in their early sixties in the Netherlands, offered no protection against Omicron, Van Dissel said. The Pfizer vaccine still offered some protection after two doses but was more effective after three.
‘The message is: booster, booster, booster,’ Van Dissel told a technical briefing in parliament on Wednesday.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also recommended the single-shot Janssen vaccine as a booster, with a minimum gap of two months after the second dose.
Van Dissel also said MPs should review the corona pass system used to allow people who have been vaccinated or tested negative to go into bars, cafes, cinemas and other venues.
‘The corona access pass is based on immunity and in particular on resistance to the Delta variant. Omicron could change that, which means the Outbreak Management Team needs to re-evaluate it.
‘We need to look at how much potential protection the corona access pass offers.’
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