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LifestyleHealthOmicron causing significant re-infections, increased hospitalisations in South Africa: Study

Omicron causing significant re-infections, increased hospitalisations in South Africa: Study

Published: 3rd Dec 2021 5:23 pm

Hyderabad: A latest study on Omicron from South Africa by local researchers has indicated that there is a significant surge in Covid reinfections and the new variant has the ability to evade the immunity developed by individuals from a prior infection.

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The study, published in MedRxiV, the preprint online archive of BMJ Yale and Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, US, on Thursday said that large number of infections in the Omicron wave in South Africa were reinfections.

The study titled ‘Increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection associated with emergence of the Omicron variant in South Africa’ covered 2,796,982 individuals from South Africa with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 between March 4, 2020 and November 27, 2021.

“Evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is associated with substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection. In contrast, there is no population-wide epidemiological evidence of immune escape associated with the Beta or Delta variants. This finding has important implications for public health planning, particularly in countries like South Africa with high rates of immunity from prior infection,” researchers, drawn from various research organisations in South Africa, in the study said.

Commenting on the study, noted epidemiologist and senior fellow, Federation of American Scientists, Dr. Eric Fiegl Ding on Twitter said “Not merely second infection, it is also possible to get third infection with Covid-19. A total of 35,000 individuals had one reinfection,” he said.

Dr Ding said that hospitalisations in South Africa due to Omicron are on the rise, as hospitalisation data gets updated in that country once a week. “The hospitalization curves are getting revised upwards day by day as they backfill more hospitalizations from last week. The bottomline is that the hospitalizations are surging, almost 10 times in 2 weeks,” Dr Ding tweeted.

Founder and Director of Scripps Research Translational Institute, Dr Eric Topol also highlighted the issue Omicron reinfections. “The link of Omicron with reinfections gets stronger, and the South African cases are on the rise, with hospitalizations, gets steep,” he tweeted.

The South African study can be accessed at: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.11.11.21266068v2

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