Very positive, real-world data on Omicron from South African released this morning has led to the chair of the country’s medical association warning that lockdowns could do “More harm than good” in protecting people from Covid. Dr. Angelique Coetzee – credited with raising the alarm on the variant – insists that almost all Omicron cases they’ve dealt with show “very mild signs”. This is backed up by the new data revealed adults infected with Omicron are 29% less likely to be hospitalised with the infection than other variants:
The data are drawn from a study of South Africa’s largest health insurer, Discovery, using 211,000 positive PCR tests of adults, 41% of whom had received two doses of Pfizer.
It confirms that two doses make vaccinated people 70% less likely to get hospitalised versus unvaccinated people, lower than the 93% granted against the Delta variant, yet still far higher than the WHO’s original 50% efficacy benchmark.
The Sunday Times’s Tom Calver yesterday pointed out that the case fatality rate – deaths as a proportion of cases 10 days earlier – has plummeted in the last few days, meaning “the theory that Omicron causes milder symptoms is becoming very hard to ignore…”
South Africa's case fatality rate falls again to 0.5%. The theory that Omicron causes milder symptoms is becoming very hard to ignore... pic.twitter.com/rYxZDTOoGw— Tom Calver (@tomhcalver) December 13, 2021
Natural immunity may be our best bet against the variant, though as of this morning it looks like the UK is sliding towards further restrictions…
According to Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, the spread of Omicron may help, rather than a hinder…
“Tough lockdown restrictions could end up doing more harm than good. Omicron could potentially be of great help to us, which is certainly not something you could say about the Delta variant. A hard lockdown would slow the process of Omicron making its way through the population and allowing people to develop the vital antibodies which will move your population towards herd immunity. The next variant might be slower spreading but more severe, and so we will need all the help we can get from such natural immunity.”