R rate in South Africa may have soared from below one to three

R rate in Omicron epicentre in South Africa soars from below one to 3.5 in just weeks as UK Government scientist rubbishes claims that super-strain is milder

  • In epicentre Gauteng province the R rate has spiralled from one to three in recent weeks as cases surge
  • Lead UK epidemioloog sê Omicron-infeksies lyk waarskynlik sag as gevolg van immuniteit teen vorige infeksies
  • WGO-amptenare het Donderdag voorgestel dat Covid-gevalle ligter was by diegene wat die Omicron-stam opgedoen het
  • The reproduction rate in the South African province at the epicentre of the Omicron outbreak has surged from below one to over three in less than a month, as the super-strain outpaces Delta at a ferocious pace.

    Public Health Officials in Guateng province estimate that the R value — a key measure used to gauge how fast a wave is growing — could be as high as 3.5. Ter vergelyking, the UK’s R rate has never been above 1.6.

    The Omicron strain has triggered a meteoric rise in cases in Suid-Afrika, mostly concentrated in Guateng, sedert die land wat die wêreld die eerste keer in November gewaarsku het oor die hoogs-ontwikkelde virus 24.

    Nasionaal, gevalle daar gestyg tot 11,535 op Donderdag merk a 370 persent styging in 'n week, en 'n derde op rondom 8,500 gister. Dit het die dominante stam in die land geword in bietjie meer as 'n week sedert dit amptelik ontdek is, opmaak 75 persent van opeenvolgende monsters.

    A pre-print from South Africa published yesterday found that the new strain is at least two-and-a-half times better at re-infecting people than all other variants.

    This could explain why it’s spreading so fast in Guateng province, waar tot 80 per cent have natural immunity, and not so fast in other countries where it has been detected like the UK for weeks. Only a quarter of South Africans are vaccinated, compared to around 70 per cent in the UK, US and Europe.

    Terwyl Omicron se aansteeklikheid onbetwisbaar lyk, daar is toenemende onsekerheid oor hoe goed dit entstowwe kan ontduik en hoe ernstig die siekte wat dit veroorsaak sal wees.

    Public health experts in South Africa and the World Health Organization have insisted cases are only mild and vaccines should still be highly effective against the strain, ten spyte van 'n gebrek aan data.

    Maar die Britse gesondheidsveiligheidsagentskap (UKHSA) epidemioloog Meaghan Kall het gewaarsku dat data tans daarop dui dat Omicron 'erger' kan wees’ as Delta — hoewel die prentjie steeds na vore kom. Sy het gesê sy is 'hoogs skepties'’ dat die spanning ligter simptome veroorsaak, sê infeksies mag net minder ernstig voorkom omdat mense immuniteit teen ander variante het, anders as in die eerste golf.

    And despite the optimism, hospital admissions already appear to be on the rise in South African with Thursday’s 274 op 180 per cent on last week, even though they are rising from a low base.

    Intussen, 'n groot Britse studie in booster-entstowwe het bevind dat beide Moderna en Pfizer die vlak van T-selle in mense met dubbele prik verdriedubbel, wat volgens die wetenskaplikes hulle vol vertroue gemaak het dat boosters baie hoë beskerming teen Omicron sal gee. Sommige 42 cases have been confirmed in Britain so far.

    Scientist won’t know the full scale of Omicron’s infectiousness, entstofontwyking of dodelikheid vir nog twee of drie weke, when they can isolate the virus in a lab and study its biology and test it against the blood of previous-infected or vaccinated people.

    Data in Suid-Afrika toon die R-koers het die afgelope weke tot meer as drie persent gestyg toe Omicron posgevat het in die Gauteng provinsie

    Data in Suid-Afrika toon die R-koers het die afgelope weke tot meer as drie persent gestyg toe Omicron posgevat het in die Gauteng provinsie

    Grafiek wys: Die persentasie toetse wat positief teruggekom het in die hele Suid-Afrika sedert die begin van die pandemie was gemiddeld oor sewe dae (rooi lyn) en op 'n daaglikse basis (blou lyn)

    Grafiek wys: Die persentasie toetse wat positief teruggekom het in die hele Suid-Afrika sedert die begin van die pandemie was gemiddeld oor sewe dae (rooi lyn) en op 'n daaglikse basis (blou lyn)

    Grafiek wys: Die sewe dae gemiddelde aantal sake in provinsies regoor Suid-Afrika. Infeksies neem toe in Guateng (donkergroen lyn), die episentrum van die Omicron-golf in Suid-Afrika

    Grafiek wys: Die sewe dae gemiddelde aantal sake in provinsies regoor Suid-Afrika. Infeksies neem toe in Guateng (donkergroen lyn), die episentrum van die Omicron-golf in Suid-Afrika

    Grafiek wys: Die gemiddelde aantal gevalle van sewe dae per dag wat sedert einde Oktober in provinsies regoor Suid-Afrika aangeteken is. Infeksies het tot meer as 1,000 per dag in Guateng (donkergroen lyn), die episentrum van die Omicron-golf

    Grafiek wys: Die gemiddelde aantal gevalle van sewe dae per dag wat sedert einde Oktober in provinsies regoor Suid-Afrika aangeteken is. Infeksies het tot meer as 1,000 per dag in Guateng (donkergroen lyn), die episentrum van die Omicron-golf

    Just how heavily Omicron has mutated from both the original Covid virus and other variants such as Delta has been laid bare by new images

    Just how heavily Omicron has mutated from both the original Covid virus and other variants such as Delta has been laid bare by new images

    Grafiek wys: The UK Health Security Agency's (UKHSA) most recent estimate for the R rate — the number of people someone with Covid infects — in Britain on November 19. The R rate has never gone above 1.6 in the country, less than half the current estimate in South Africa

    Grafiek wys: The UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) most recent estimate for the R rate — the number of people someone with Covid infects — in Britain on November 19. The R rate has never gone above 1.6 in the country, less than half the current estimate in South Africa

    Covid-versterker-entstowwe sal waarskynlik goeie beskerming teen die Omicron-variant bied, kenners agter 'n regering-gefinansierde nuwe studie sê. Grafiek wys: Die aantal T-selle per 10^6 perifere bloed mononukleêre selle by mense wat twee dosisse van die AstraZeneca gehad het na 'n derde dosis van die Pfizer (rooi stawe) en Moderna (blou tralies) entstowwe

    Covid-versterker-entstowwe sal waarskynlik goeie beskerming teen die Omicron-variant bied, kenners agter 'n regering-gefinansierde nuwe studie sê. Grafiek wys: Die aantal T-selle per 10^6 perifere bloed mononukleêre selle by mense wat twee dosisse van die AstraZeneca gehad het na 'n derde dosis van die Pfizer (rooi stawe) en Moderna (blou tralies) entstowwe

    Covid-versterker-stoot sal waarskynlik teen Omicron beskerm, wetenskaplikes sê

    Covid-versterker-entstowwe bied waarskynlik goeie beskerming teen die Omicron variant, kenners agter 'n groot nuwe studie sê - in die eerste sprankie hoop sedert die opkoms van die super-stam verlede week.

    Die liggaam se T-sel immuunrespons na 'n derde dosis dui daarop dat hulle sal voortgaan om te beskerm teen hospitalisasie en dood van die nuwe stam, volgens die staatsbefondsde verhoor.

    Dit ondersteun ook die VK se besluit om te gebruik Pfizer of Modern as boosters, met mRNA jabs wat die meeste teenliggaampies en T-selreaksies turbolaai.

    Daar word gemeen dat T-selle langer blywende en breër beskerming bied as teenliggaampies wat 'n aanvanklike hoër hupstoot van beskerming lewer, maar ook sien dat verdediging vinniger vervaag met verloop van tyd.

    Professor Saul Faust, proefleier en direkteur van die NIHR Kliniese Navorsingsfasiliteit by Universiteitshospitaal Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, gesê: 'Al verstaan ​​ons nie die verband daarvan met langtermyn-immuniteit behoorlik nie, die T-seldata wys vir ons dat dit blykbaar wyer teen al die variante stamme is, wat ons hoop gee dat 'n variante stam van die virus dalk hanteer kan word, beslis vir hospitalisasie en dood indien nie voorkoming van infeksie nie, deur die huidige entstowwe,’ Professor Faust gesê.

    Hy het gesê dat T-selreaksie nie net op die piekproteïen gefokus is nie, maar dat ''n baie wyer reeks antigene herken wat moontlik… gemeen aan al die variante.’

    Spesifiek oor Omicron gevra, hy het gesê: 'Ons hoop as wetenskaplikes is dat beskerming teen hospitalisasie en dood ongeskonde sal bly.’

    Monsters van die studie is nou aan die Britse gesondheidsveiligheidsagentskap oorgedra (UKHSA) om te kyk hoe goed die Omicron-variant deur entstowwe geneutraliseer kan word.

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    Scientists are working at breakneck speed to establish whether Omicron is more transmissible and deadly than other mutant strains. But they say it could still be at least a week before reliable estimates start to emerge.

    Early reports on the ground in southern Africa suggested that most cases were mild or completely asymptomatic. But there has been no age breakdown meaning it is impossible to know whether this is because the strain is simply yet to spread to older people. The WHO has repeatedly claimed that it is a mild strain.

    But Dr Kall said: ‘I am highly sceptical it could be more mild. I think the best case is it’s equivalent in severity to Deltabut you’ll see milder symptoms now, than Delta when it emerged, because many more people have immunity now.

    A pre-print published yesterday suggested Omicron was around three times more likely to re-infect people who had had Covid before.

    South African researchers said tere had been 35,670 reinfections since the beginning of the pandemic, and the risk of reinfection was 0.7 per cent during the country’s Beta-fuelled second wave last winter and Delta wave in the summer.

    But the risk of catching the virus again has recently spiralled to at least 2.4.

    Scientists from Stellenbosch University, naby Kaapstad, said the findings suggested Omicron was better able to evade immunity in people who had already been infected than other variants which were suppressed by immunity.

    A pre-print paper means it has not yet been reviewed by other scientists, who double-check its findings.

    Microbiologist at Reading University Dr Simon Clarke said the data was the ‘first indicationthat Omicron could get around immunity from previous Covid infection.

    Hy het gesê: ‘There are a few caveats in this work, such as not having definitively confirmed that it was indeed Omicron that was causing the reinfection, but they were able to determine that the increased transmission of Beta or Delta variants was not a result of immune evasion.

    ‘There is no indication as to how this immune evasion happens, although it can be presumed to be because of decreased antibody binding to Omicron’s mutated spike protein.

    Hy het bygevoeg: ‘Omicron has blown a big hole in the controversial argument that we should simply allow the infection to spread in an attempt to create immunity.

    ‘Herd immunity which now seems like nothing more than a pipe dream. We await a further indication as to whether Omicron has any ability to evade vaccine induced immunity.

    Infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia Professor Paul Hunter said: ‘The implications of this paper are that Omicron will be able to overcome natural and probably vaccine induced immunity to a significant degree.

    ‘Maar, the degree is still unclear though it is doubtful that this will represent complete escape.

    Hy het bygevoeg: ‘It remains the case that the extra value of the booster vaccination dose remains the most important step that we can take to reduce the probability of severe disease. I suspect new targeted vaccinations will be developed against omicron but it the infection spreads globally as rapidly as it seems to be taking off in South Africa then most of us may already have had the infection by the time a new vaccine is available.

    Sommige 51,402 mense in die land het 'n Covid-toets afgelê en 22.4 persent van hulle het positief getoets vir die virus. Ter vergelyking, 38,075 persent van toetse wat verlede week op dieselfde dag geneem is en 6.5 persent was positief.

    Intussen, Covid hospital admissions nearly tripled in a week, but deaths have fallen 64 persent.

    But despite fears about Omicron, South Africa is still recording far fewer overall Covid cases compared to its population size than both the UK and US.

    Figures from the Oxford University research platform Our World in Data show South Africa has 63 cases per million people compared to 638 in the UK and 257 in die VSA. Cases are rising sharply in South Africa but are starting at a low base.

    Professor Anne von Gottberg, a clinical microbiologist at the NICD, revealed at a World Health Organization conference yesterday the variant was behind 75 per cent of cases nationally and it ‘does look like there is a predominance of Omicron throughout the country’.

    Five of the country’s nine provinces have confirmed Omicron cases and officials expect its prevalence to be high in the remaining four areas where positive samples have not yet been sequenced. Daar was net 183 confirmed cases of the strain because only a handful of positive samples are analysed for variants.

    The variant has been spotted in more than 20 countries worldwide and is likely to have been spreading for weeks before South Africa raised the alarm. The Netherlands detected a case one week earlier, while Nigeria found its first case in a sample taken in October.

    It was even in the UK before it was first spotted by scientists last week, with nine cases in Scotland on November 20, causing speculation the strain was imported from the COP 26 climate conference or a rugby game at Murrayfield Stadium against South Africa.

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