Omicron Variant: Dr Sikhulele Moyo was analyzing samples of COVID-19 in his laboratory in Botswana last week when he noticed that the samples looked surprisingly different from the others. Within days, the world was shaken by the news that a worrying new variant of the corona virus has emerged, a pattern that has been witnessing a dramatic jump in COVID cases in South Africa, and that offers a glimpse into what is happening around the world. In which direction the global pandemic is moving now.
New cases of Kovid-19 in South Africa increased from about 200 daily in mid-November to more than 16,000 on Friday. Health Minister Joe Fahla said Omicron was detected a week ago in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province, and has since spread to all eight other provinces. Despite the rapid increase, new daily cases of infection are still below 25,000 during the last wave in June and July in South Africa.
Scientist Moyo, possibly the first to identify Omicron, said little is known about the new form, but growth in South Africa suggests it may be more contagious. Omicron has more than 50 mutations, and scientists have called this a huge jump in the evolution of the virus.
Only a few people who have been vaccinated have become ill.
Fahla said that of those who have been vaccinated, only a small number of people have become ill, mostly with mild illness, while most of those admitted to the hospital were not vaccinated. But in a worrying development, South African scientists have found that Omicron is more likely to cause re-infection in people who have already had covid than in the previous form.
Vaccine will still work against serious infections
However, scientists have expressed hope that the vaccine will still be effective against serious infections. Meanwhile, Moyo in an interview expressed his disappointment over the sanctions imposed on South Africa. He said, “You honor science in this way? By blacklisting countries? He said, “The virus does not know passports, it does not know borders. We should not do geopolitics about the virus. We should cooperate and understand.”
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