High Omicron reinfection rate sparks concerns: The findings from a preliminary study on the reinfection rate of new coronavirus variant Omicron has come bearing worrying news. Conducted by South African scientists, the study found that Omicron is three times more like to cause reinfections, as compared to the delta variant.
The findings are based on data that was collected via South Africa’s health system and have hinted at Omicron’s ability to evade the immune system that has been boosted by prior infections.
South Africa was the first country to flag this new variant of coronavirus which is said to have originated in Botswana.
Juliet Pulliam, director of the South African DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis, Stellenbosch University, tweeted that the scientists found no evidence of increased reinfection risk associated with circulation of Beta and Delta variants, suggesting limited or no immune escape.
However, recent reinfections were found to have occurred in individuals whose primary infections occurred across all three waves, with the most having their primary infection in the Delta wave, tweeted Pulliam. “We also see a recent increase in the number of reinfections in individuals who had already had multiple suspected infections from mid-November,” she wrote in her thread. According to her, these findings suggested that Omicron’s selection advantage is at least partially driven by an increased ability to infect previously infected individuals.
Pulliam also clarified that the scientists did not have information about the vaccination status of individuals in their data set and therefore can’t make any assessment of whether Omicron can also evade vaccine-derived immunity.
Omicron arrives in India
On December 2, India reported its first two cases of the Omicron variant. Both the cases were reported from the state of Karnataka and were found in fully vaccinated individuals. While one of the patients was a South African national, the second patient was a doctor with no travel history. five people who came in contact with him have now tested positive of COVID-19. Read more about it here.
Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Dr Balram Bhargav told the media that there was no need to panic about Omicron, but awareness is absolutely essential. “It is important to get fully vaccinated, people should get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. People should follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. Mass gatherings should be avoided.”