Omicron’s less severe cases prompt South Africa to be cautiously optimistic

Medical staff and scientists in South Africa welcomed the early hospital data, which indicated that the Omicron coronavirus variant may cause a lighter disease than the previous wave, but warned that the higher transmission rate may still overwhelm the hospital.

Early data from the Steve Biko and Tshwane Regional Hospital Complex in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, at the epicenter of the epidemic, showed that on December 2, only 9 of the 42 patients in the Covid ward were not vaccinated. For viral treatment, oxygen is needed.

The remaining patients have tested positive but have no symptoms and are receiving treatment for other diseases.

“My colleagues and I have noticed that there are so many patients in the indoor air,” said Dr. Farid Abdullah, director of the South African Medical Research Council and an infectious disease doctor at Steve Biko Hospital.

“In the past 18 months, you have walked into the Covid ward at any time… You can hear the oxygen whistling out of the wall socket, you can hear the beeping of the ventilator… But now absolutely Most patients are the same as other wards.”

These data will reassure global health officials who are alarmed by the rapid increase in the number of infections in South Africa. But experts warn that the sharp increase in cases related to the new coronavirus variants apparently able to evade the immune protection of previous infections or vaccinations may still put hospitals under pressure similar to the summer delta wave.

At the same time, neighboring Zimbabwe’s concerns are growing. In the first sign of the Omicron wave sweeping the region, soaring infection rates are beginning to test the squeaky health care system.

Data for the entire Gauteng province confirms the pattern of milder disease in Pretoria. 8% of Covid-positive hospitalized patients are being treated in the intensive care unit, which is less than 23% in the entire Delta wave. Only 2% of people use ventilators, less than 11%.

Although the total number of Covid-positive patients at Gauteng Hospital is close to the level reached during the Delta wave, researchers say that a large proportion of patients have received treatment for other diseases. The number of Covid patients in intensive care is one quarter of the three weeks after the delta outbreak.

The chart shows that although the number of Covid-positive patients in Gauteng is approaching the level of the Delta wave, the number of ICUs is much lower.  The total number of Covid-positive patients is currently 80% of the Delta level at the same point, but the number of ICU patients is only 25% of the Delta level at the same stage

“I’m very optimistic,” said Shabir Madhi, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Witwatersrand. He predicts that although there will be “a large number” of breakthrough infections and reinfections, a smaller proportion of cases will eventually require hospitalization.

On Sunday, Anthony Fauci, a senior U.S. health official, also stated that early signs of the severity of the mutation are “Encourage”.

However, Professor Richard Lessers, an infectious disease doctor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, said that compared with the virus evolving to a reduced toxicity, Omicron is more likely to cause milder symptoms as a result of immunity.

The scientists emphasized that even if the more deadly variant does not appear in the country, Omicron’s infectivity alone could cause major problems. The number of Covid-positive patients admitted to hospital every week in Gauteng is growing five times faster than during the fastest period of the delta wave.

The graph shows that the number of Covid cases, the positive test rate and the number of hospitalizations in Gauteng is growing much faster than the previous wave

“If it spreads and spreads more efficiently, and infects more people in a short period of time, this is really bad news for your hospital and health system,” Lessells said.

Jantjie Taljaard, an infectious disease doctor at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town, said that the city’s hospitals are preparing for a wave of their Omicron admissions, which may rival the Delta wave, as the case rate increased six times last week.

Taljaard added that he suspects that the hospital data in Gauteng “may be a bit biased” because the early stages of this wave of infections are more common among young people and they are less likely to get serious illnesses.

At the Zimbabwe border, health officials are increasingly worried about how a similar surge will cause severe damage to the country’s health care system, which has fewer resources than its more affluent neighbors.

The number of severely ill Covid-positive patients in Zimbabwe hospitals has increased sharply, climbing from 6 to 26 in the 7 days as of last Friday, ahead of the delta wave that was at the same stage in June.

Professor Rashida Ferrand, director of the research partnership between a Zimbabwean health institution and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, pointed out that the infection rate in Zimbabwe is increasing at the fastest rate “at any time during the pandemic”, which reflects The surge in Gauteng.

Feilande said: “This may overwhelm the health care system, far more than South Africa.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.