A earlier COVID-19 coronavirus an infection appears to supply little to no safety towards the not too long ago found Omicron variant, scientists in South Africa mentioned on Thursday.
The conclusion relies on an estimate of how many individuals had been contaminated earlier than the variant got here alongside, though rising knowledge assist the scientists’ view.
The scientists cautioned that a lot in regards to the variant stays unknown, however as Omicron drives a surge of recent instances in South Africa, they’re gaining extra perception into it.
In a web-based briefing held by the World Health Organization’s regional workplace for Africa, authorities scientists mentioned that Omicron shares some traits with the Delta variant that might make it extra simply transmissible. Scientists now worry that the brand new variant’s risk lies in how vulnerable populations will probably be to it.
Scientists have estimated that as many as 24 million individuals of the 60 million individuals in South Africa had been beforehand contaminated with the COVID-19 coronavirus, and 36 % have been vaccinated. Despite that, the information present many individuals are nonetheless getting sick, suggesting to the scientists that some individuals are being reinfected.
“We believe that previous infection does not provide them protection from infection due to Omicron,” mentioned Anne von Gottberg, a microbiologist at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
Previous an infection provided a level of safety towards the Beta and Delta variants however reinfection has elevated because the detection of the Omicron variant, mentioned Ms. Von Gottberg, talking throughout a briefing held by the W.H.O.’s regional workplace in Africa.
While the reinfection price is tough to quantify at this early stage, “it looks more than what the model would predict,” she added.
Previous infections will “hopefully” present some safety towards extreme illness, hospitalizations and dying, Ms. Von Gottberg mentioned of early evaluation of the variant’s unfold in South Africa.
South Africa recorded a complete of 11,535 new instances of COVID-19 coronavirus within the final 24 hours, in accordance with knowledge revealed on Thursday. The authorities didn’t but say how lots of the instances had been of the brand new variant. While hospitalizations have elevated in South Africa, solely 4.1 % of intensive care unit beds are occupied by sufferers recognized with Covid-19, a W.H.O. official mentioned.
South Africa has additionally seen an uptick in every day vaccinations after the announcement of the detection of the Omicron variant per week in the past, although not but on the targets set by the federal government.
“Vaccines have always held out to prevent severe disease and admissions into hospitals and death,” mentioned Ms. Von Gottberg.
The W.H.O. mentioned it’ll additionally assist the crucial response and assist genomic sequencing efforts in southern Africa.