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SA scientists reveal ‘good news and bad news’ about Omicron variant

SA scientists reveal ‘good news and bad news’ about Omicron variant

UPDATES ON OMICRON, MONDAY 29 NOVEMBER

As with any new variant with a large number of mutations, we’re going to get some bumps in the road. Salim Abdool Karim, Joe Phaahla, and several virology experts were on hand to make this crystal clear today.

The experts slammed the global travel bans slapped on South Africa, and called for an end to ‘knee-jerk reactions’ when new variants are discovered. Omicron has the world on red alert, but has the panic been justified?

LATEST ON THE NEW VARIANT: GOOD NEWS AND THE BAD NEWS ABOUT THE OMICRON VARIANT

THE BAD NEWS

Professor Abdool Karim believes that there will indeed be a level of ‘immune escape’ from Omicron.

Because the variant is so differently mutated, the body may struggle to identify Omicron as a COVID virus. That means more people will be vulnerable to ‘reinfection’ if they encounter this new strain.

“Mainly younger people are getting infected, for obvious reasons: Younger people are less vaccinated. So you will see more cases there. There’s some evidence, preliminary as it is, that we can see that the mutations that occur and may confer some level of immune escape from it. So we can expect that we may see more reinfection.”

Salim Abdool Karim

THE GOOD NEWS

According to Abdool Karim, it is already anticipated that the vaccines ‘should hold well’ against Omicron, preventing cases of severe disease and death, as they have done with previous variants.

The idea that vaccines could prevent widespread transmission of COVID-19 was torpedoed by the Delta variant. The aim of the game, as far as these jabs are concerned, is to keep our hospital beds and mortuaries empty.

  • Looking at the early evidence, it seems the inoculations will do a decent job of that…

“Based on what we know, we can expect that this is the likely scenario that the vaccines should hold well, in terms of preventing hospitalisations and severe disease. We understand that different vaccines might react differently and different levels of protection against particularly mild infections.”

“Based on the behaviour of other variants, we can expect that we will see high effectiveness for the prevention of COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths. But we need another four weeks or so to get the data on this.”

Salim Abdool Karim


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