Omicron in SA

Following the discovery of the Omicron variant within South Africa, by South African scientists, South Africa has been placed on the red list, barring South Africans to visit multiple countries.

Health officials stated that hospitals had recorded large spikes in admissions due to Omicron (The Covid-19 variant). However, the health sector has stated that South African hospitals seem to be coping with the high rise in infections. Outlining that the patients admitted show reduced life-threatening symptoms, which are treatable. The number of patients placed on oxygen support has also reduced despite the increase in positive cases.

Dr. Waasila Jassat confirmed that despite the easy transmissibility of the Omicron variant the percentage of cases admitted to the hospital was relatively low. All of whom were unvaccinated patients. A researcher in Tshwane noticed and confirmed a similar pattern and finding. This circumstantial evidence indicated that vaccinated patients who have acquired the Omicron variant are less likely to be admitted into the hospital and require extensive treatment.

Pfizer released a statement that outlined that a booster shot of their COVID-19 vaccine may provide additional and important protection against the Omicron variant. The initial two doses were deemed effective; however, an additional shot was advised for maximum protection.

Despite the effects and initial reaction to the recently discovered Omicron variant, health officials have stated that the Omicron variant may already be reaching its peak within South Africa. There is also substantial evidence indicating a decline in cases caused by the Omicron variant. This data was distributed by the South African National Institute for communicable diseases. It showed positive cases dropping from 30% to 15%. Hospitalizations decreased from 207 to 64 during this time.

Scott Gottlieb, from the American Enterprise Institute, stated that the province which had been the epicenter for the Omicron outbreak had recorded reduced cases. He also mentioned the fact that hospital admissions in Gauteng have stabilized.

With worries from the US and Europe at an all-time high, this news shows an optimistic forefront and future. Multiple territories voiced their worries regarding the Omicron variant. They feared it may be the variant that was capable of vaccine resistance and able to infect large masses of people. Although, Omicron appears to be less deadly. However, it is highly transmissible.

South Africa’s willingness to outline and share their findings of the Omicron variant and its effects; As well as their consequential repercussions for doing so, may affect South Africa’s willingness to offer additional findings. In a time where transparency is of utmost importance, this is a concern.

Omicron’s full extent is still yet to be observed as it makes its way into more than 63 countries.

Jessica Bayley

Jessica Bayley is an international author and journalist based in South Africa and Belgium. She writes on international affairs and also an author of "The Ladies of Belgium"