SA fuels Omicron hope as hospitalisations stay in check

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SA fuels Omicron hope as hospitalisations stay in check

Early readings may point to lower severity as scientists still decode strain to evaluate global impact

Mike Cohen and Janice Kew

SA’s surge in Covid-19 cases after the emergence of the Omicron variant hasn’t overwhelmed hospitals so far, prompting some cautious optimism that the new strain may cause mostly mild illness.

Initial data from SA, the epicentre of the outbreak of the Omicron variant, are “a bit encouraging regarding the severity”, Anthony Fauci, US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Sunday. At the same time, he cautioned that it’s too early to be definitive.

Scientists and public-health officials are scouring available data to try to predict Omicron’s impact, as many questions about the new strain and its multiple mutations remain unanswered. The variant, now dominant in SA, has made its way from Tokyo to Oslo since its discovery was announced on November 25. ..

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