African Study: Omicron Can Overcome Partial Immunity

According to data from South Africa, Omicron is able to Overcome some, but not all, Immunity
Omicron is able to Overcome some, but not all, Immunity/Courtesy

JOHANNESBURG – According to the latest data from South Africa, where it is quickly overtaking Delta to become the dominant variant, the Omicron variant appears to be able to get around some immunity. However, vaccines should still provide protection against severe disease.


Omicron, which has sparked global fears of an outbreak, was first discovered in southern Africa last week, prompting governments worldwide to impose travel restrictions and other measures in an attempt to contain it.


According to the latest official report released on Wednesday, the new variant has been detected in five of South Africa’s nine provinces and is likely to be found throughout the country.


The number of cases reported per day has doubled to 8,561. Because not all test samples are subjected to genomic sequencing, it’s unclear how many of those were Omicron, but an official presentation stated that Omicron was “rapidly becoming the dominant variant.”


According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), which collects data as part of a larger national network for genomic surveillance, Omicron accounted for 74% of the 249 virus genomes sequenced in South Africa in November.


South Africa only sequences the genomes of a small percentage of the total samples collected each week. The NICD did not provide a total number of Omicron infection cases that had been confirmed.


“(The) mutation profile and epidemiological picture suggests Omicron is able to get around some of our immune protection (to cause infection), but vaccine-induced protection against severe disease and death should be less affected,” according to the surveillance network’s most recent report.


The first sample with the variant was taken on November 8 in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria.


It has since been found in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape.



Earlier this year, organizers called off a youth music festival after 36 people tested positive for COVID-19 on the premises.


The Ballito Rage music festival kicked off on Tuesday in Ballito, a town on South Africa’s eastern coast north of Durban. 32 guests and four staff members were positive for COVID out of 940 people tested during the first eight hours of the event.


It was unclear whether the 36 had been infected with Omicron or a different strain.


The Delta variant was responsible for the third wave of infections in South Africa, which peaked at over 26,000 cases per day in early July.


The country has reported nearly 3 million infections and over 89,000 deaths since the outbreak began, the most on the African continent.


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