Omicron variant, risk of new contagion for healed: study

The first data collected in South Africa: the risk could be double compared to previous variants

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus linked to a spike in reinfections in South Africa: the risk of reinfection in subjects who have already recovered could be double compared to previous variants. This is the hypothesis that characterizes a study not yet subjected to peer review. Scientists, highlights the BBC, have analyzed about 36,000 ‘suspicious’ samples to verify data relating to second infections. The data did not show peaks during the waves dominated in the country by the Beta or Delta variants which, according to results obtained in the laboratory, would have had the partial ability to overcome the vaccine barrier. Now, in the country that discovered the Omicron variant, there is a surge in reinfections: not all patients have been subjected to analyzes aimed at identifying the variant, but the timing suggests that Omicron is involved in the phenomenon. Professor Juliet Pulliam, of Stellenbosch University, is one of the signatories of the study. The scientist refers to “a greater ability to infect previously infected individuals”.

Professor Willem Hanekom, director of the Africa Health Research Institute, also contributes to enrich the picture. “We know 3 things we didn’t know last week”, he tells the BBC. “The first thing is that the virus is spreading with extraordinary speed in South Africa, the increase in cases is much faster than in the previous 3 waves. It seems that Omicron is able to spread very easily and virtually all cases. we see now in South Africa are Omicron cases, “he explains.

“The second thing is about the data we have on reinfections. After you have covid, you have about a 1% or less chance of getting infected again and getting sick from this virus again,” he says. “The third piece of data we have refers to clinical cases and the severity of the disease. The data suggests that the disease may occur more frequently among young people and particularly among unvaccinated ones. So far, symptoms have appeared milder. But I want to emphasize that we have to be cautious: these are the very first days, “he notes. “A large proportion of hospitalized people are not vaccinated. Vaccines may be less effective but the important point is that we believe they protect against serious illness and death. We should have laboratory data on vaccine efficacy within a week.