On the 8th of November, 2021, the first sample of what would be eventually called the Omicron COVID variant was collected in South Africa. The variation was first brought to the public attention at a virtual press conference by the Health Department of South Africa on the 25th of November.
On the 29th of November, 2021, Australia halts its plans to open its international borders for a period of 2 weeks until at least the 15th of December, with no guarantees on it actually opening that day as well.
There are numerous mutations in this variant, some of which are troubling. In comparison to other Variants of concern, preliminary research suggests that this variation has a higher risk of reinfection. In practically all of South Africa’s provinces, the number of occurrences with this variation appears to be increasing. While experts around the world debate whether a booster shot is necessary or effective in bolstering the immune response against Omicron, the United Kingdom Health Security Agency published a study on Friday claiming that a third shot provides up to 75 per cent protection against symptomatic Omicron infection.
According to preliminary research from South Africa, the Omicron form produces less severe sickness. According to a report released on December 4 by doctors at Pretoria’s Steve Biko/Tshwane District Hospital Complex, this rapid spike in instances is not followed by an equal increase in patients requiring supplemental oxygen or intensive care. Furthermore, in the last two weeks, persons admitted to the COVID-19 ward have stayed for an average of 2.8 days, which is significantly less than the 8.5 days seen in the prior 18 months. Experts warn against reading too much into this research, which only covers the first two weeks of the Omicron wave in South Africa and is based on a tiny sample size, but it is an indication of good news nonetheless.