SA only country in Africa offering comprehensive data on Omicron variant: Africa CDC

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The Africa Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention says that South Africa is the only country on the continent that is so far offering comprehensive data on the trend of the Omicron variant. Cases caused by the variant in the country are now dropping.

And because of this, the CDC says it is difficult to ascertain if the Omicron cases have reached a peak on the continent or not.

So far, 39 countries have reported the Omicron variant, with the Africa CDC saying an increase of cases being registered was triggered by the just-ended holiday season where human interaction was high.

The continent has so far registered more than 10 million cases of COVID-19. The World Health Organisation says South Africa, where Omicron was first reported, saw a 9% fall in weekly infections and a decrease in hospitalisations.

There are several reasons according to Director of the Africa CDC Dr. John Nkengasong.

“First of all is that many more people had been infected in South Africa. They already had exposure and developed antibodies to previous infections like the Delta and Beta when they occurred. And then secondly, the rate of vaccination in South Africa is really increasing. So, if you look at the people that had been infected just naturally and you combine that with people that have received vaccines there, then the level of population of antibodies has increased in South Africa in the course of the last two years.”

Africa CDC briefs the media on developments in the fight against coronavirus on the continent :

Vaccination for coronavirus 

With at least 27% of its population vaccinated against COVID-19, South Africa is among the top five countries in Africa that the Africa CDC says have high levels of vaccination.  So far, Africa has received about 663 million doses of COVID -19 vaccines, of which 340 million doses have been administered.

Fully immunised people on the continent only represent 10.1% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people.  This is still very low compared to the target of 60% of the population to achieve herd immunity against the pandemic.

Some countries are already urging their citizens to get booster vaccines. The Africa CDC advises that it is vital to boost administering the basic vaccines first.

“The first priority of business order is for us to vaccinate as many people as possible,  to get their first doses. The second order of business is to get those who have received their first dose to go out and get their second dose. And then for the subset of the population that are more vulnerable, those who are elderly, and those who have immunity compromised they can get their boosters. So, our recommendation is not yet at the level of generalised boosting – we can’t even recommend general boosting when you have only 10% of the population fully vaccinated.”

The World Health Organisation says Africa’s 4th wave, now experienced in 46 countries, is being majorly driven by the Omicron variant and warns that the 5th wave might be even tougher.

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