The WHO thinks that previous infection with COVID does not protect against Omicron in the same way that it does against other variants such as Delta.
Anne von Gottberg, professor and Vice President of the Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has stated that previous infection with COVID probably does not protect against Omicron, as it does with other variants such as Delta.
“We believe that previous infection does not provide protection from Omicron,” said Gottberg in a press conference held this Tuesday, November 30. However, she also stated that it does hopefully protect against hospitalisation and death.
Despite the possibility of reinfection with the new variant, the expert does believe that vaccination will continue to protect against serious illness. “Vaccines have always held up to prevent severe disease, admissions into the hospital and deaths,” explained the expert, clinical microbiologist at the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa.
Von Gottberg said that yesterday there were 8,000 new cases detected in South Africa, most of which were in the epicentre of what is currently the start of the fourth wave. She has warned that the numbers are increasing rapidly and that many of those infected had previously had COVID.
Ghana and Nigeria have become the latest African countries to detect Omicron. Scientists are actively investigating whether it is more contagious, causes more serious illness or affects the effectiveness of the vaccines. Salam Gueye, WHO Regional Emergency Director in Africa, has said that this is a reminder of the need to double efforts to stop the spread of COVID.
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