The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been spreading fast all over the world. It was first diagnosed in South Africa. When South Africa and Botswana detected the Omricon variant, the South African scientists compared it with the earlier variants of the virus.
A preliminary study suggests that the Omricon is three times more likely to cause reinfections compared to the Delta or Beta strains. There were 35,670 suspected reinfections among 2.8 million individuals with positive tests until November 27. Cases were considered reinfections if they tested positive 90 days apart.
The director of the South African DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis, Juliet Pulliam, stated that the scientists did not know about the vaccination status of the individual and, therefore, it is very hard to assess to what extent Omicron evades vaccine-induced immunity. He further stated that the researchers are planning to study this.
Michael Head, a scientist at Southampton University, said, "This analysis does look very concerning, with immunity from previous infections being relatively easily bypassed." Might this all still be a "false alarm"? "That is looking less and less likely," he said in a statement.
However, Anne von Gottberg, an expert at the NICD, told the WHO's Africa region that they anticipate a surge in Omicron cases and said that the present vaccines would still be effective against severe outcomes.
WHO experts reiterated calls for a rethink on travel bans to southern Africa as the Omricon variant had now been reported in more than 24 countries where the source remained unclear.