According to the director of South Africa's transmittable disease institution, the Omicron coronavirus variety discovered in southern Africa may be the most promising candidate to replace the extremely infectious Delta form.
The recent discovery of Omicron has sparked widespread concern, with governments restricting international journeys from southern Africa out of worry that the virus may spread swiftly even among vaccinated people, and the World Health Organization warning that it poses a highly significant risk of infection increases.
As per Adrian Puren, interim executive director of South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), in a question and answer session with Reuters, what would ultimately overtake Delta? This has been a recurring theme; perhaps this version is the variant, at least in terms of transmissibility.
If Omicron proves the point to be even more easily transmissible than the Delta version, then it could result in a dramatic increase in infections, putting hospitals under strain.
Puren expects research scientists to necessarily know in four weeks whether the Omicron can defy vaccination or past infection-induced total immunity and whether it causes worse than that clinical signs than other variations.
According to anecdotal reports from clinicians who have treated Covid-19 patients in South Africa, Omicron is likely to cause moderate symptoms such as a dry cough, fever, and excessive sweating, although specialists warn against drawing definitive conclusions.
Puren said it would be too soon to determine if Omicron is overtaking Delta in South Africa because local researchers have only generated 87 Omicron sequences so far.
However, the simple fact that instances have been fast increasing, particularly in Gauteng, South Africa's most populous province, indicates that considerable displacement itself has already occurred.
In early July, Delta triggered a third wave of Covid-19 viral infections in South Africa, with over 26,000 cases every day. Omicron is expected to start the fourth wave, with daily virus infections expected to reach 10 thousand by the end of the week, up from around two thousand two hundred and seventy on the initial day of the week.
Viral infections appeared to be spreading across the nation, according to Anne von Gottberg, a forensic microbiologist at the NICD.
An NICD briefing on Monday highlighted a substantial percentage of Covid-19 hospitalizations even among toddlers under the age of two as a cause for worry. Von Gottberg, on the other hand, warned against making the connection with Omicron quite yet.
She stated that it appears that certain of those admissions may have begun before the formation of Omicron. They've also noticed an uptick in influenza occurrences in the previous month or two, so they need to become more vigilant in checking for other respiratory diseases. She stated that they are closely examining the information, however, that she is not confident that they might connect it to Omicron at this time.
South Africa has been commended for rapidly alerting the international scientific community and the World Health Organization (WHO) about Omicron, a courageous move given the harm that travel constraints enforced by several countries, such as the United Kingdom, might very well cause to the country's essential tourism industry.
Throughout the epidemic, the government reported nearly 3 million Covid-19 infections and over 89,000 fatalities, the largest on the African continent.