Many people in South Africa have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 multiple times. However, in recent weeks, there has been an increase in such reinfections – which epidemiologists attribute to the Omikron variant.
They fear “immune evasion”, meaning that the mutation means that the immune system will not recognize the viruses and will no longer be repelled. One consequence may be a loss of protective effect due to previous vaccinations or diseases.
To get to the bottom of the matter, several laboratory studies are currently underway. Results will only be available in a few days or weeks. This was reported by “Deutsches Ärzteblatt”.
One variable is dominant in each wave
Each wave aura carries its own kind of virus. In the first wave it was the wild type, in the second beta, in the third delta. The fourth wave appears to have been caused by the omicron variant, which was first observed in South Africa, as beta.
Researchers at Stellenbosch University near Cape Town came up with this idea two mathematical models The risk of injury is again calculated. The basis was the intervals between infections in people infected several times.
Both models indicate that there was no significant increase in re-infection during the second and third waves. According to the calculations, there was already a significant increase in the fourth wave. So the risk of reinfection can be twice as high as in previous waves with the Omikron variant.
Protection from previous injury is worse
According to the researchers, this indicates that Omikron can at least bypass immunity from previous infections.
However, there is no data on the consequences for those who have been vaccinated: the researchers did not know the vaccination status of the re-infected people. In South Africa, the rate is so low that only 25 percent of citizens are fully vaccinated.
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