Omicron may turn out to be deadlier than Delta, says South African scientist
- Omicron was first detected in South Africa’s Gauteng province
- Scientists suspect the highly-mutative variant may elude vaccine protection
- The Gauteng province is already seeing a steep rise in hospitalisations
The omicron coronavirus variant may outrun the deadly Delta variant in transmissibility, according to the director of South Africa’s communicable disease institute. Omicron was first discovered in the Gauteng province of South Africa and has since spread to several countries across the globe. The detection of the virus has also made countries hit the breaks on resuming travel and may nations have imposed extremely strict curbs.
While the World Heath Organization (WHO) has said that the omicron coronavirus variant poses a very high risk, the South African institute of communicable diseases went a bit further to stress the potential of this new and highly-mutative variant.
“We thought what will outcompete Delta? That has always been the question, in terms of transmissibility at least…perhaps this particular variant is the variant,” said Adrian Puren, acting executive director to South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in an interview to Reuters.
The South African province where the variant was first detected has already seen a rise in hospitalisation numbers. If the variant proves to be more transmissible than Delta, a higher rise in hospitalisations is expected not only in South Africa but also in other parts of the world where the variant has been detected.
As for concrete information on whether the omicron variant is able to outdo Delta, scientists may still take a couple of weeks to find out. For now, doctors say infection with the omicron variant does not necessarily lead to severe disease and the symptoms include fatigue, mild fever and dry cough along with night sweats.
The Delta variant, which wreaked havoc in countries such as India and the United States, drove the third wave of infections in South Africa. At one point earlier this year, cases in South Africa reached 26,000 per day. Omicron may trigger a fourth wave with daily infections already rising to 10,000 by the end of the week.