Good News Coming In From South Africa, Say Experts

Due to the uneven testing, reporting delays and other fluctuations in the daily case count, the Covid-19 cases counts are infamously unreliable.

Amid the Omicron scare across the world, South Africa saw a noticeable decline in the number of coronavirus cases recently which shows that the country’s affected omicron-driven spike has crossed its peak, said the medical experts.

Due to the uneven testing, reporting delays and other fluctuations in the daily case count, the Covid-19 cases counts are infamously unreliable. But one provocative hint that they are offering is far from conclusive yet — that omicron infections may withdraw quickly after a vicious rise in cases.

The treatments include a monoclonal antibody product, pre-exposure defensive drugs for immunocompromised people, and new antiviral pills pending Food and Drug Administration authorization

South Africa has been at the van of the omicron surge and the world is watching for any signs of how it may play out there to try to understand what may be in store.

After hitting a high of nearly new cases nationwide on Thursday, the figures dropped to about on Tuesday. In Gauteng fiefdom — South Africa’s most vibrant with 16 million people, including the largest megacity, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria — the drop started before and has continued.

“The drop in new cases nationally combined with the sustained drop in new cases seen here in Gauteng province, which for weeks has been the center of this wave, indicates that we are past the peak,” Marta Nunes, senior researcher at the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics department of the University of Witwatersrand, told The Associated Press.

“It was a short wave … and the good news is that it was not very severe in terms of hospitalizations and deaths,” she said. It is “not unexpected in epidemiology that a very steep increase, like what we saw in November, is followed by a steep decrease.”

Gauteng province saw its figures start sprucely rising in mid-November. Scientists doing inheritable sequencing snappily linked the new, largely shifted omicron variant that was blazoned to the world on Nov. 25.

Significantly more transmittable, omicron snappily achieved dominance in South Africa. An estimated 90 of COVID-19 cases in Gauteng fiefdom since mid-November have been omicron, according to tests.

And the world seems to be snappily following, with omicron formerly surpassing the delta variant as the dominant coronavirus strain in some countries. In the U.S., omicron reckoned for 73 of new infections last week, health officers said — and the variant is responsible for an estimated 90 or further of new infections in the New York area, the Southeast, the artificial Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.

Verified coronavirus cases in the U.K. have surged by 60 in a week as omicron caught delta as the dominant variant there. Worldwide, the variant has been detected in at least 89 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

In South Africa, experts bothered that the sheer volume of new infections would overwhelm the country’s hospitals, indeed though omicron appears to beget milder complaint, with significantly lower hospitalizations, cases demanding oxygen and deaths.

But also cases in Gauteng started falling. After reaching new infections onDec. 12, the fiefdom’s figures have steadily dropped, to just over cases Tuesday.   “It’s significant. It’s very significant,” Dr. Fareed Abdullah said of the decrease.

“The rapid rise of new cases has been followed by a rapid fall and it appears we’re seeing the beginning of the decline of this wave,” said Abdullah, working in the COVID-19 ward at Pretoria’s Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

In another sign that South Africa’s omicron surge may be receding, a study of health care professionals who tested positive for COVID-19 at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto shows a rapid increase and then a quick decline in cases.

“Two weeks ago we were seeing more than 20 new cases per day and now it is about five or six cases per day,” Nunes said.

But, she said, it is still very early and there are several factors that must be closely watched.

South Africa’s positivity rate has remained high at 29%, up from just 2% in early November, indicating the virus is still circulating among the population at relatively high levels, she said.

And the country’s holiday season is now underway when many businesses close down for a month and people travel to visit family, often in rural areas. This could accelerate omicron’s spread across South Africa and to neighbouring countries, experts said.

“In terms of the massive everyday doubling that we were seeing just over a week ago with huge numbers, that seems to have settled,” said Professor Veronica Uekermann, head of the COVID-19 response team at Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

“But it is way too early to suggest that we have passed the peak. There are too many external factors, including the movement during the holiday season and the general behavior during this period,” she said, noting that infections spiked last year after the holiday break.

It’s summertime in South Africa and numerous gatherings are outside, which may make a difference between the omicron-driven surge then and the surges in Europe and North America, where people tend to gather indoors.

Another unknown factor is how important omicron has spread among South Africans without causing complaint.

Some health officers in New York have suggested that because South Africa appears to have endured a quick, mild surge of omicron, the variant may bear also there and away in the theU.S. But Nunes cautions against jumping to those conclusions.

“Each setting, each country is different. The populations are different. The demographics of the population, the immunity is different in different countries,” she said. South Africa’s population, with an average age of 27, is more youthful than many Western countries, for instance.

Most of the patients presently being treated for coronavirus in hospitals are not vaccinated, Uekermann focused. About 40% of adult South Africans have been vaccinated with both doses.

“All my patients in ICU are unvaccinated,” Uekermann said. “So our vaccinated people are doing better in this wave, for sure. We have got some patients who are very ill with severe COVID, and these are unvaccinated patients.”

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