S.Africa’s health authority found the risk of re-infection from Omicron was three times higher

A nurse prepares a dose of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dutywa
FILE PHOTO: A nurse prepares a dose of vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the new variant of Omicron spreads, in Dutywa, in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

December 2, 2021

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A group of South African health authorities say the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a three times greater risk of reinfection than the currently dominant Delta variant and the Beta strain, a group of organs South African health said on Thursday.

The South African Center for Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis (SACEMA) and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) say the latest findings “provide epidemiological evidence of Omicron’s ability to avoid immunologically previous infectious diseases”.

Their statement comes after a group of South African health organizations published an article on as a pre-print, meaning the work has not been co-certified.

Earlier in the day, microbiologist Anne von Gottberg at NICD echoed similar sentiments at an online news conference organized by the World Health Organization, saying that South Africa is seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19 re-infection due to Omicron.

South Africa has seen a spike in daily reported coronavirus cases with the government reporting 11,535 new infections on Thursday, up from 312 ten days ago.

The NICD, along with a broader network of health organizations that perform genome sequencing on samples, said Wednesday that the Omicron variant has been able to gain some immunity and rapidly become domestic dominant variant.

An analysis of periodic surveillance data from South Africa from March 2020 to November 27 found that “Omicron’s re-infection risk profile was substantially higher than that of the Beta and Delta variants during the outbreak.” Monday and Tuesday,” the NICD said in a statement on Thursday.

An increase in reinfections rather than new infections would be an indication that the new variant has developed the ability to evade natural immunity from previous infection, it said.

Juliet Pulliam, director of SACEMA and author of the pre-print paper, said in her paper that Omicron’s model will likely be established across all provinces of South Africa by early to mid-December. , the NICD said.

The analysis was based on 2,796,982 individuals who tested positive for at least 90 days prior to November 27, of which 35,670 were suspected of being reinfected.

(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Edmund Blair) S.Africa’s health authority found the risk of re-infection from Omicron was three times higher


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