South African researchers reveal new information about Omicron variant

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The Omicron variant is three times more likely than previous variants to cause reinfection, researchers in South Africa found.

A preliminary study published Thursday (December 2) found that Omicron has the “substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection.”

Researchers analyzed 2.8 million positive coronavirus samples in South Africa and suspected at least 35,670 of them were reinfections, which prompted their grim estimate of Omicron’s potential impact.

According to The Washington Post, scientists are also saying that reinfection might be an explanation for how this newest variant has been spreading. So far, the higher risk of reinfection is “temporarily consistent” with when Omicron emerged in South Africa.

The study has yet to be peer-reviewed and the scientists behind the study didn’t have access to vaccine data to see how the variant compares against the available vaccines.

One of the study’s authors, Juliet Pulliam said that vaccination is still probably the best protection against severe disease and death when it comes to Covid-19.

Just knowing about Omicron’s potential for re-infection is still important information, Pulliam tweeted, “but there’s still a lot we don’t know.”

Immune escape from prior infection, whether or not Omicron can also evade vaccine derived immunity, has important implications for public health globally, but there is still a lot we don’t know.— Juliet Pulliam, PhD (@SACEMAdirector) December 2, 2021

Scientists are still working to get a better scope of Omicron’s potential for vaccine evasion –– something experts say might be better known in about two weeks.

To learn more about Covid-19, the Omicron variant, and the vaccines, please click here.

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