Data Suggests South Africa’s Omicron Surge Ended Without Major Spike in Deaths

Public health researchers in South Africa released a study on Tuesday indicating the country may have already passed the peak of its COVID-19 omicron variant surge without a jump in hospitalizations or deaths, The Hill reported.

Researchers focused on the city of Tshwane in Gauteng, where omicron currently accounts for 95% of reported cases. During their study in Tshwane, they reviewed hospital records and compared them to prior surges.

According to their analysis, the omicron variant “spread and declined” in Tshwane “with unprecedented speed.” The surge peaked on Dec. 5, only four weeks from its beginning.

The report showed that peak hospital bed occupancy during the omicron wave was half of what was observed during the delta wave.

“The changing clinical presentation of SARS-CoV-2 infection is likely due to high levels of prior infection and vaccination coverage,” researchers wrote.

“The speed with which the omicron driven fourth wave rose, peaked, and then declined has been staggering,” Fareed Abdullah, director of the South African Medical Research Council’s AIDS and tuberculosis research, wrote on Twitter.

“Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two,” he added. “This omicron wave is over in the city of Tshwane. It was a flash flood more than a wave.”

The study followed anecdotal reports from South Africa that the COVID-19 omicron variant resulted in milder cases of illness.


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