//Omicron objectivity

Omicron objectivity

Omicron variant

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

Body aches

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

Omicron variant

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

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-59418127

Beta was all immune escape and nothing else, Delta had infectivity and modest immune escape, this potentially has both to high degrees

US response

Already in US

NY, state of emergency

Africa travel restrictions from Monday

US citizens allowed back

TSA, 2.3 million passengers on Wednesday

Germany

https://www.dw.com/en/covid-germany-confirms-first-2-cases-of-omicron-variant/a-59958183

Two cases of omicron confirmed in Munich

Entered Munich airport on 24th November

Czech Republic

Confirms first omicron case in Liberec
Woman had been in Namibia

Italy

One omicron infection coming from Mozambique.

Israel response

No entry to non Israelis

UK response

Brentwood in Essex and Nottingham, two cases linked

Thanks to SA for information

Spreads rapidly

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

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/belgium-seeks-slow-down-social-life-fight-fourth-covid-wave-2021-11-26/

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

https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2021/nov/27/covid-news-live-omicron-variant-spreads-to-europe-countries-rush-to-impose-travel-bans-on-southern-africa

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

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-59442129

Two KLM flights, 61 tested positive

Quarantined at hotel, awaiting further tests