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Omicron may not evade all immunity: 4 new findings by South African doctors, scientists

The symptoms reported early were mild as the cases were mostly reported in younger age groups but now older age groups are also becoming the target of this variant, scientists say. 
A hospital worker ensures people practice social distancing at a hospital near Johannesburg, South Africa, (AP)
Published on Dec 02, 2021 09:00 AM IST
By | Written by Poulomi Ghosh

Omicron, the new variant of Covid, officially reported first from South Africa, can not possibly render all vaccines ineffective, though it appears to get around some immununity, latest data from South Africa revealed. Not much is known about this new variant as countries have only started to identify this variant after South Africa raised the alarm in the last week of November.

Here are the latest data on Omicron from South Africa

Vaccine-evasive but not completely

The variant is fast overtaking Delta to become the dominant variant in South Africa but vaccines should still offer protection against severe disease, data revealed.

5 out of 9 provinces have this variant

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Omicron is likely to be present all over South Africa. As of now, five out of nine South African provinces have reported Omicron cases.

Also Read: 'If that happens to kill somebody...': UK expert's warning over Omicron variant

How fast is the variant spreading?

It is not yet known as South Africa conducts genome sequencing on only a small proportion of total samples collected each week. The total number of confirmed Omicron cases in the country is not yet known. However, the number of daily Covid cases has doubled to 8,561.

Mild or severe?

South African doctors earlier said that they found mild diseases in Omicron cases. But scientists are saying it is still too early to determine whether going forward Omicron will only cause mild illness. The symptoms reported were mild as the cases were mostly reported in younger age groups but now older age groups are also becoming the target of this variant.

Richard Lessells, an infectious disease specialist at the KRISP genomics institute, said the severity of disease caused by the new strain may also be masked by the fact that many people have already contracted other variants or have been inoculated, giving them some immunity.

(With inputs from Reuters and Bloomberg)

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