Omicron best-case scenario: Variant not causing severe illness to overtake Delta
Local and international experts have cautioned against panicking about the emergence of the latest Covid-19 variant.
"South Africa... has been among the first to describe variants before, so we know how to do this, including how to deal with variants with immune escape" said respected epidemiologist Prof. Salim Abdool Salim.
Bruce Whitfield finds out about the spread of the Omicron variant from Dr Richard Friedland, CEO of the Netcare Group.
What is known is that this is a highly transmissible variant says Prof. Friedland, with the concentration of cases presently in Gauteng.
We also know that this virus [variant] does have a form of vaccine immune escape in terms of mild and moderate disease, in other words people who are vaccinated... are still getting infected...Dr Richard Friedland, CEO - Netcare Group
What is being seen in South Africa at the moment supports the hypothesis that the Omicron variant causes only mild and moderate disease, Dr Friedland asserts.
He says its impact will become clearer in the days or weeks to come.
What we don't know yet: Is this virus robust enough to take over Delta and become the predominant variant in South Africa? And, probably most importantly, how virulent is the virus?... (for symptoms classed as severe you require hospitalisation)Dr Richard Friedland, CEO - Netcare Group
We're seeing from the statistics coming out of our primary care centres that over 60% of the cases are occurring in adolescent, young children and young adults under the age of 30. That's been corroborated in some of the public hospitals in their outpatient departments - mainly younger people, not vaccinated necessarily, with flu-like symptoms.Dr Richard Friedland, CEO - Netcare Group
The next seven to ten days will determine whether this will result in severe disease, but it may well be that we are getting vaccine protection from severe illness which requires hospitalisation and potentially could cause death and catastrophe.Dr Richard Friedland, CEO - Netcare Group
That would be the silver lining - if we can get a variant that takes over Delta that doesn't cause severe illness I think we'll be dealing with a flu-like pandemic... This is potentially the evolution of what we saw with the Spanish Flu, that it eventually didn't burn itself out but it became a lot less virulent.Dr Richard Friedland, CEO - Netcare Group
For more detail, click on the link below for the interview audio:
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