First Clinical Information on Omicron from South Africa is Encouraging

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has published the first clinical report on hospitalized patients since the advent of the Omicron variant.

It describes the condition of the infected two weeks after the discovery of the new variant. The data is current as of December 2 and is for medical facilities in the epicenter of the outbreak of Omicron - Tshwane County in Gauteng province. Not all proven COVID cases in these hospitals have been confirmed for Omicron, as appropriate tests are not used everywhere, but it can be reasonably assumed that these are the cases.

The majority of patients in the COVID wards were not oxygen dependent. SARS-CoV-2 was an accidental finding in patients admitted to the hospital for other medical, surgical or obstetric reasons, is one of the main conclusions.

These observations (the full text can be seen HERE) come against the backdrop of two conflicting ones about Omicron - that it is milder than previous versions and that it is much more contagious and is already causing a wave of hospitalizations in South Africa. SAMRC data seem to find a plausible explanation in support of both claims.

The report from early experience with Omicron describes the profile of patients at the Steve Biko / Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria, in the heart of the Tshwane district. Between November 14 and 29, 166 people with coronavirus were admitted there.

"It is essential to recognize that the patient information presented here represents only the first two weeks of the Omicron wave in Tshwane. The clinical profile of the admitted patients may change significantly in the next two weeks, and until then we will be able to draw conclusions about the severity of the disease...

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