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Are the omicron symptoms worse in South Africa?

South Africa has seen cases rise amid the omicron variant

Passengers, some wearing masks, in Soweto, South Africa.
Passengers, some wearing masks, wait for their taxi to leave the Baragwanath taxi rank in Soweto, South Africa, on Thursday Dec. 2, 2021. The omicron variant of the coronavirus has become so dominant in South Africa that cases doubled in a 24-hour period, according to BBC News.
Jerome Delay, Associated Press

The omicron variant of the coronavirus has become so dominant in South Africa that cases doubled in a 24-hour period, according to BBC News.

  • As of Wednesday, 8,500 new COVID-19 infections were reported.
  • There were 4,300 cases confirmed Tuesday.

Are omicron variant symptoms worse in South Africa?

Salim Abdool Karim, a professor of the Africa Task Force for Coronavirus, told BBC News that the full picture won’t emerge until “people get so sick that they need to go to hospital” which is generally “three, four weeks” after infection.

  • “But the feedback we’re getting from the ground is that there’s really no red flags — we’re not seeing anything dramatically different, what we’re seeing is what we are used to,” he told BBC News.

All reports suggest that the omicron variant symptoms have been milder among fully vaccinated people. The full picture won’t become clear for a few weeks, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

BioNTech co-founder Ugur Sahin, co-founded the vaccine developer for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, told The Wall Street Journal that fully vaccinated people will likely be safe from the variant.

  • “Our message is: Don’t freak out, the plan remains the same: Speed up the administration of a third booster shot,” he said.
  • “Our belief (that the vaccines work against omicron) is rooted in science: If a virus achieves immune escape, it achieves it against antibodies, but there is the second level of immune response that protects from severe disease — the T-cells,” Sahin told The Wall Street Journal. “Even as an escape variant, the virus will hardly be able to completely evade the T-cells.