Dr Angelique Coetzee, South African Medical Association
First to raise alarm about the new omicron
a storm in a teacup
Why everyone up in arms
So far, what we have seen is very mild cases
17 to 18 November, noticed a change in clinical picture
After 10 week of low numbers
For not its extremely mild cases that we are seeing
Looking at the mildness of these symptoms, I think it’s been missed in other countries
Severely mild, headache
What is different is the extreme tiredness
Mostly men under 40s
I really think the vaccine plays a role here, breakthrough infections, but very very mild
You can call all of the hospitals in Pretoria you will see there is not a huge influx of patients with this omicron
If Africa is not going to be vaccinated you will see new variants coming up
Rudo Mathivha, head of the intensive care unit at Soweto’s Baragwanath hospital
We’re seeing a marked change in the demographic profile of patients with Covid-19
Young people, in their 20s to just over their late 30s, are coming in with moderate to severe disease,
some needing intensive care.
About 65% are not vaccinated and most of the rest are only half-vaccinated
I’m worried that as the numbers go up, the public health care facilities will become overwhelmed
Urgent preparations are needed to enable public hospitals to cope with a potential large influx of patients needing intensive care
Omicron variant may be responsible for as many as 90% of the new SA cases
24% fully vaccinated
50 mutations overall
32 on spike protein
10 on RBD (delta has 2 RBD mutations)
Presumed high viral load
Prof Ravi Gupta, University of Cambridge
Beta was all immune escape and nothing else, Delta had infectivity and modest immune escape, this potentially has both to high degrees
Already in US
NY, state of emergency
Africa travel restrictions from Monday
US citizens allowed back
TSA, 2.3 million passengers on Wednesday
Two cases of omicron confirmed in Munich
Entered Munich airport on 24th November
Confirms first omicron case in Liberec
Woman had been in Namibia
One omicron infection coming from Mozambique.
No entry to non Israelis
Brentwood in Essex and Nottingham, two cases linked
Thanks to SA for information
Can be spread between people that are double vaccinated
Some immune escape
Need to slow down seeding
Time for vaccinations and boosters
More African countries added
Red list, 10-day hotel quarantine
PCR test by 2nd day in the country, isolate until then
All contacts of a detected case of omicron to self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status
Increase face coverings in public
Vaccines will give protection, boosters will help
Boost the booster campaign
Belgium, first Omicron variant case in Europe
Belgium, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke
B.1.1.529, found in an unvaccinated person
Who had developed symptoms and tested positive on Nov. 22.
Young adult woman, developed symptoms 11 days after returning from a trip to Egypt via Turkey.
Flu-like symptoms, but no signs of severe disease.
None of her household members developed symptoms, but were being tested.
Prof Sir Andrew Pollard, director of Oxford Vaccine Group
If you look at where most of the mutations are,
they are similar to regions of the spike protein that have been seen with other variants so far
and that tells you that despite mutations existing in other variants,
the vaccines have continued to prevent very severe disease as we’ve moved through Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.
At least from a speculative point of view we have some optimism that the vaccine should still work against this variant for severe disease
but really we need to wait several weeks to have that confirmed.
But it is extremely unlikely that a reboot of a pandemic in a vaccinated population like we saw last year is going to happen
The processes of how one goes about developing a new vaccine are increasingly well oiled.
So if it’s needed that is something that could be moved very rapidly.
Hundreds of passengers arriving in Amsterdam from South Africa
On tarmac for 4 hours
Two KLM flights, 61 tested positive
Quarantined at hotel, awaiting further tests