The Omikron variant continues to spread at breakneck speed. But medical findings from South Africa could offer hope: The machines that provide oxygen in intensive care units have vanished.
The bad news first: South African doctors and researchers have warned that the omicron type of coronavirus is spreading much faster than previous variants, and hospitals will likely be overburdened.
The number of hospital admissions doubled in the last 24 hours, Displays a new overview. In addition, preliminary results indicate that The Pfizer vaccine provides only partial protection.
Then the slightly better news, with a big caveat that it’s still too early to say anything for sure:
The first indications that oomicron infection causes less serious illness also seem to hold true for those already hospitalized.
Early data from Steve Biko Hospital and Tshwane County Hospital, located in the capital Pretoria in hard-hit Gauteng province, could open the door at least to cautious optimism.
South Africa: 17,000 virus cases were old numbers
The difference one can hear
My colleagues and I have noticed a rise in patients coming into contact with normal air, says Dr. Farid Abdullah, director of the South African Medical Research Council, and physician in the division of infectious diseases at Steve Biko Hospital. Sesame Financial Times.
– If you go to the coronavirus department at any time in the last year and a half, you can hear the oxygen flowing from the connections in the wall, and you can hear the oxygen machines standing and alive. Abdullah continues that the majority of patients are now the same as patients in other departments.
Statistics like the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) in South Africa include:
- The number of Covid patients admitted to hospitals is now approaching the same level as it was three weeks after the wave of infections caused by the delta variable.
- But among those who are admitted, a smaller proportion end up in the intensive care unit (just under 10 percent for the omicron compared to just over 20 percent for Delta).
- The number of critically ill people requiring an oxygen supply is also well below the same level during delta outbreaks (about 2% of omicrons, compared to about 12% in deltas).
Young and immunized
“I am very optimistic,” Shabbir Madi, professor of vaccine knowledge at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told the Financial Times.
He predicts that although many have been infected, fewer will need to be treated in hospitals.
The first clinical findings thus match what the first South African doctor to discover oomicron infection reported: The patients had mild symptoms.
But then it was young people, who had no underlying diseases, and who were fully vaccinated.
The new findings apply to those who actually became so ill that they needed treatment, meaning fewer in that group needed intensive care.
Africa trembles with fear of the Omicron
But other South African experts believe one should take the early clinical findings with several major reservations:
It is possible that if the omicron variant did indeed cause less serious disease, it is primarily due to the fact that immunity is relatively high in South Africa, since many of them were vaccinated and / or contracted the virus.
In other words, it is not yet known whether the type of virus itself is less dangerous.
In addition, it should be assumed that among those infected so far a high proportion are young and healthy, while it can be assumed that the intensity of hospitalization will increase significantly when the new alternative is fully effective among the elderly and those with underlying diseases.
Professor of Medicine at the University of Oslo, and researcher in immunology, Anne Spurkland, says the findings from South Africa can Good news, especially for those with some degree of immunity.
– We want to be as optimistic as possible, but it is too early to be convinced, says the expert, and explains:
– It must be remembered that in South Africa many were previously infected with the previous variants, and many have been vaccinated since the last wave. Thus, the immunity there is now higher, perhaps masking how it actually turned out, says the expert.
– When this alternative comes to Europe, where there has been better control and fewer have been infected, and there is still a percentage of those who have not been vaccinated, this may be very different, she continues.
She believes that the most relevant finding from South Africa is that fewer people need intensive care than people need intensive care at the same time during a delta wave.
But the omicron thus enters a community that is now more immune than it was during the Delta. Therefore, it is too early to trust that this may be an intermediate virus, suggests Sporkland.
If you are not infected and have not yet had the vaccine, you cannot feel safe in the mild course of the disease.
Omicron: Therefore, a booster dose may be to the rescue
It hits hard in neighboring countries
The most dangerous of them is no matter how quickly the infection spreads. This is especially dangerous for South African neighbours.
South Africa is the center of the entire region in South Africa, and the countries are closely linked through trade and the labor market.
This means that neighboring countries are already experiencing a sharp increase in infection rates. And in countries like Zimbabwe, immunity is lower, due to fewer infected and because fewer vaccinated. In addition, hospital capacity is significantly weak.
In Zimbabwe, the number of COVID-19 patients is now higher than it was at the same point during the delta contagion, one expert points out to the Financial Times.
Prof Rashida Ferran, who is leading the research collaboration between health institutions in Zimbabwe and the London School of Hygiene and the Tropics, says infections are spreading much faster than at any previous stage in the epidemic, and could overwhelm hospitals to a greater extent than they were in South Africa. medicine.
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