African health chief sends foreboding message about Omicron — Analysis

Omicron Covid data derived from Africa should not be used to predict the future. This is due to the unique features of African countries.

John Nkengasong was the Head of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. He stated on Thursday that any positive information relating to Omicron variant mildness shouldn’t be taken outof context.

This was after an unreviewed South African study published Wednesday by health officials. According to the study, Omicron-positive people were less likely than other types of Omicron to be admitted to hospitals between October 1st and November 30, respectively.

“We should interpret the data from South Africa with a lot of caution,”Nkengasong spoke at an online media briefing. “let’s be careful not to extrapolate what we are seeing in South Africa across the continent, or across the world.”

According to the CDC expert, factors such as South Africans’ relatively young median age could partially explain the higher hospitalization rates.

The study’s authors also suggested that their results could be impacted by high levels of immunity in the community. A total of 60 to 70% of South Africans have been infected by different strains of Covid-19.

Nkengasong suggests that it is possible for countries with older population and less exposure to Covid-19 to see higher hospitalization rates as Omicron spreads.

The data for South Africa were partially supported by UK research. Imperial College London determined that Omicron was less likely to be hospitalized than Delta. Similar results were found in a Scottish study.

Omicron is seven times more contagious that Delta, despite being less viral than Delta. The Omicron strain is causing massive outbreaks, with the UK seeing over 100,000 cases per day.

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