The omicron variant of the coronavirus may result in more breakthrough COVID-19 cases, but most fully vaccinated people won’t experience severe COVID-19 symptoms, BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin said Tuesday.

Sahin, who co-founded the vaccine developer for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, told The Wall Street Journal that there is no reason for people to freak out yet over the new variant.

  • “Our message is: Don’t freak out, the plan remains the same: Speed up the administration of a third booster shot,” he said.
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Currently, no research exists that shows the impact of the vaccine on the omicron variant. There also isn’t any research on how the omicron variant will impact vaccinated people, according to The Hill.

However, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association which first announced the discovery of the omicron variant, told BBC Sunday that fully vaccinated omicron patients have shown mild symptoms so far.

But, he said, the vaccine appears to adapt to compete against dangerous variants, like the delta variant.

  • “Our belief (that the vaccines work against omicron) is rooted in science: If a virus achieves immune escape, it achieves it against antibodies, but there is the second level of immune response that protects from severe disease — the T-cells,” Sahin told The Wall Street Journal. “Even as an escape variant, the virus will hardly be able to completely evade the T-cells.”
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This is why Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN on Sunday that people should get vaccinated to stop omicron’s spread.

  • “We have to use every kind of tool in our toolbox to keep (omicron) from getting in a situation that makes this worse,” he said.
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