Health data suggests South Africa’s Omicron peak passed without a major peak in deaths

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A study in South Africa found that the country may have already passed the peak of the omicron-fueled surge in coronavirus cases, with data suggesting the variant did not cause a corresponding increase in hospitalizations and deaths.

The study examined the speed at which the fourth wave of cases progressed in the South African town of Tshwane, which researchers have described as the “global epicenter” of the omicron wave.

Researchers looked at hospital records from a hospital system in Tshwane and compared them to previous increases. According to their analysis, the omicron wave “spread and diminished in the city of Tshwane with an unprecedented rate reaching a peak within 4 weeks of its onset.”

The study determined that the surge peaked during the week of December 5, about four weeks after an exponential increase in cases was observed.

According to the researchers, the peak hospital bed occupancy during the omicron wave was half of what was seen during the delta wave, and the patient age distribution was younger. Omicron currently accounts for 95 percent of sequenced cases in Gauteng province, where Tshwane is located.

“The changing clinical presentation of SARS-CoV-2 infection is likely due to high levels of previous infection and vaccine coverage,” the researchers wrote, adding that about two-thirds of Tshwane residents have a form of immunity against COVID-19, either by vaccination. or a previous infection.

“The rate at which the fourth Omicron wave rose, peaked and then diminished has been astounding. A peak in four weeks and a precipitous decline in two more. This Omicron wave has ended in the town of Tshwane,” Fareed Abdullah, director of the South African Medical Research Council’s AIDS and Tuberculosis Research, wrote on Twitter.

“It was a flash flood more than a wave,” he said.

Abdullah also shared a graph showing the rate of COVID-19 deaths and cases in South Africa during the pandemic and noted the peak in deaths significantly lower compared to previous peaks.

“Is it hybrid immunity or lower virulence?” Asked Abdallah.

The study follows anecdotal reports from South Africa that the omicron variant causes milder disease cases, although health experts have cautioned against taking these reports into account because most early omicron cases involved younger individuals.

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