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Fifth Covid wave crashed through SA’s 97% antibody protection

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Fifth Covid wave crashed through SA’s 97% antibody protection

Research shows the ability of Omicron sublineages to infect those who already have defences against the disease

Antony Sguazzin

SA experienced a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections despite 97% of the population having antibodies due to previous infections or vaccination, the results of a blood survey show.

Examination of 3,395 samples from blood donors earlier this year, at the tail end of the fourth wave of infections, showed that 87% of South Africans had previously been infected with the virus, while just more than 97% had either had a previous infection or a vaccination or both. The study was lead by Stellenbosch University’s DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis and the SA National Blood Service.

The findings demonstrate the ability of the Omicron variant, especially its BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages, to infect those who already have protection against the disease. Still, despite the proportion of positive tests nearing a record daily cases as the latest surge peaked, hospitalisations were well below previous waves and relatively few deaths were recorded...

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