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More Good Omicron News Out of South Africa?

Omicron is still on track to be to be an effective candidate for ending the pandemic.

by | Dec 8, 2021 | Articles, Healthcare, Opinion

The first reports from South Africa indicated that the COVID-19 Omicron variant might turn out to be a milder version of the coronavirus. Now, more data are emerging, and the numbers look even more positive.

When the Omicron variant appeared, many governments worldwide reacted with panic lockdowns based on reports of its rapid spread. However, as Liberty Nation reported, the new variant remains mild. A new report from the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) substantiates those early indications.

[memberzone align=”right”] Since the new variant was announced on Nov. 24 in Gauteng Province, the daily recorded infections in the Tshwane District have exploded. On Nov. 30, around 900 cases were recorded. On Dec. 3, the daily case number was around 3,400, with 41,921 recorded in total. Testing of the sewage indicated exponential growth.

In the first two weeks of the new wave, the Steve Biko Academic and Tshwane District Hospitals saw 166 COVID-19 admissions, a sharp rise from earlier. However, the majority (76%) of the admissions were “incidental,” meaning that they were admitted for another medical, surgical, or obstetric reason. They were discovered due to a change in hospital policy that required COVID-19 testing of all admitted patients.

This unusual admission pattern was also recorded at other hospitals in the Gauteng Province and is consistent with the finding that most hospital cases were asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms. SAMRC notes that most of the admitted patients were dependent on oxygen supplements in previous waves. However, most Omicron patients breathed well on their own, and only 21% were given oxygen.

GettyImages-1236925483 South Africa

(Photo by Xabiso Mkhabela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Of 38 adults in one of the COVID-19 wards, there were six vaccinated, 24 unvaccinated, and eight with unknown status. Of nine patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, eight were unvaccinated. It gives an early indication that the vaccines are working well against the new variant, despite many new mutations. Only 5.4% of the 166 admissions died of COVID-19, of which more than half were above the age of 60. The death rate of admitted patients is low compared to previous waves.

Still Good News

It is still too early to draw certain conclusions about the severity of Omicron, but the data are starting to cluster at the mild end of the scale. The evidence still suggests that older people are more at risk than younger ones. The reason for the exponential spread of the disease appears to be that most people have either no or mild symptoms of illness. As such, the actual number of infected people can be much higher than the recorded cases, which would mean that the disease carries a low risk.

Thus, some scientists are beginning to speculate that Omicron is on track to become a natural immunization that could end the pandemic by displacing other, harsher variants.

~ Read more from Caroline Adana.

Read More From Caroline Adana

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