covid-19 latest stats figures south africa omicron

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‘Promising signs’: Early data suggests vaccines WILL protect against Omicron

We’ll take it: The first findings on how our vaccines will hold up against the Omicron variant look reassuring… for now.

covid-19 latest stats figures south africa omicron

Photo: Stock/Canva

As far as scientific data on the vaccine goes, this is perhaps the equivalent of scoring a goal in the first few minutes of a football match: Sure, there’s a reason to celebrate, but we are still at a very early stage here. Yet new preliminary findings on the Omicron variant could go a long way towards easing a global panic.

Omicron variant – latest news and updates for Wednesday 1 December

That’s because this new data, compiled by top scientists in Israel, suggests that the available COVID-19 vaccines already offer strong protection against Omicron. Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz stated on Tuesday night that there is now ‘room for optimism’ in this new phase of the pandemic.

“We have indications that people with vaccine reinforcement are protected and there is no reason to panic. In the next few days we will have more accurate information on the efficacy of the Omicron vaccine, but there is already room for optimism, and there are initial indications that those who are vaccinated with a vaccine that is still in force or with a booster will also be protected from this variant.”

Nitzan Horowitz

It’s good news for the vaccinated

However, it would be amiss to get ahead of ourselves at this point. From that same data set, it was estimated that Omicron is actually 30% more transmissible than Delta – which is some going, considering just how devastating that strain has been this year.

It’s believed that there will also be more ‘breakthrough’ infections in the vaccinated. However, this doesn’t mean the jabs aren’t doing their jobs. Far from it, actually. Those who have fully immunised themselves against the virus are only likely to develop mild symptoms.

Israel has been at the forefront of vaccine developments throughout the pandemic. Their Head of Public Health Services, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, told the media:

“From what we hear, those vaccinated do not have significant symptoms, it is a mild disease, but for now this is preliminary information. Later on Wednesday, there will be the first data on the efficacy of the vaccine.”

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis

Omicron variant ‘poses a threat’ to vaccine refuseniks

The same joy cannot be reserved for the unvaccinated, however. Not only is Omicron more transmissible, but it’s also believed that those with no vaccine protection are about 2.4 times more likely to develop a serious illness from this new variant. Again, it’s early days, but a clear pattern is emerging here.

Omicron, in all likeliness, is a mutation that will be felt much, much more keenly by those who refuse a COVID-19 vaccine.