Recent figures show a slight increase in excess mortality in South Africa over the past week, and admissions numbers are shorter.
A study by the private health company Discovery Health suggests that Omicron causes significantly fewer hospital admissions in infected people than the mutation that dominated South Africa’s first wave of pandemics. The study was conducted in South Africa and is based on 211,000 Covid-19 test results.
“The risk of hospitalization for adults diagnosed with Covid-19 is 29 percent lower for infections with the Omicron variant compared to infections with the D614G mutation in South Africa’s first wave of infections in mid-2020 after the vaccine status was adjusted,” he writes . Discover health.
Some critical voices have indicated that Western high-income countries are reluctant to take the numbers from South Africa seriously because, for various reasons, they take an elitist stance on the omikron results from the country’s current wave of infections.
– The omikron situation seems more and more absurd. There is obviously a lot of snobbery against South African science and medicine, but their brightest people are as skilled as those found in more developed countries, Professor Robert Dingwall of Nottingham Trent University told the British media.
– Data from South Africa give hope
However, South Africa has completely different demographics, vaccination levels, and levels of natural immunity in the population than Western countries.
– Is there any reason to doubt that data from South Africa almost a month after the first symptom case of an omicron infection can be transferred to Norwegian conditions in terms of mortality and hospitalization risk?
– Data from South Africa are absolutely interesting and give hope, but they cannot simply be transferred to Norwegian conditions, says Head Physician Preben Aavitsland from the National Institute of Public Health about Nettavisen.
– Important differences are the age distribution in the population and the prevalence of immunity after vaccination and immunity. We’ll be tracking data from the UK and South Africa, Aavitsland says.
Great Britain is one of the other countries in the world that has now been hit extremely hard by the Omicron variant.
A young population
South Africa has a young population with an average age of 27.6 years compared to Norway, which according to Statistics Norway has an average age of 40. This means that there are as many citizens over 40 as there are younger.
The Omicron variant can therefore affect the young South African population differently than it does on an older population.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that numbers from South Africa suggesting the Omicron variant is milder could be a bias, given that the vast majority of people hospitalized in the country are under 40 years of age . The pandemic has shown us: the younger you are, the lower the risk of a serious disease course with Covid-19.
Vaccination coverage is also likely higher among South Africa’s over 60s than the younger population, suggesting that older people are better protected from disease, writes BBC.
The vaccination rate in South Africa is less than a third and is thus well below the vaccination coverage in Norway. The percentage of fully vaccinated people who are 18 years of age or older is 88.6 percent in Norway.
Preliminary studies from South Africa suggest that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine prevent 70 percent of hospital admissions, even several months after other stings. That number increases to 90 percent after a refreshing dose.
Slight increase in excess mortality
Excess mortality, also known as excess mortality or mortality shift, indicates a temporary increase in mortality in a given population.
Excess mortality figures can provide an insight into how many people in a population are dying from a particular crisis.
Recent national figures from South Africa, released on Wednesday evening, show that the country’s excess mortality figures have not risen sharply in the past week. This is despite the rapidly growing distribution of omicrons.
In the period from November 29 to December 4, roughly when the omikron wave is supposed to have really picked up speed, the country’s excess mortality was already 21 percent higher than in the period 2014 to 2019.
While in the period from December 5th to 11th, i.e. after the proclamation of the omicron wave, there was only a slight increase in the average excess mortality to 23 percent.
– This is another piece of the puzzle. This is not virological evidence and it is not clinical evidence. But it basically suggests that Omicron causes a milder form of the disease, says Thomas Moultrie, a professor of demography at the University of Cape Town The telegraph.
“Excess mortality in Guateng Province, the epicenter of the Omicron outbreak, remains at an almost insignificant level,” he said.
Shorter hospital stays
Michelle Groome of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in South Africa (NICD) said at a news conference Friday it was starting to see a slight increase in the number of deaths nationally, but stressed that the numbers were not comparable to previous waves, writes The guard.
– We’re seeing a slight increase in death rates across the country, but again, those numbers are much lower than in the reference period between the second and third waves, she says.
The number of cases of infection has exploded in South Africa. On Wednesday, the country had the highest recorded number of infections (27,000) in one day during the entire pandemic, the news agency reported Associated press.
Every third corona test gave a positive result, writes The telegraph.
– The number of hospital admissions does not increase to the same extent. We’re seeing a small increase but a relatively small increase in the number of deaths, she says.
Wassila Jassat, who also works for the NICD, says the number of patients who need an oxygen supply is fewer than any previous wave of infection.
– It also seems that patients’ hospital stays are shorter, she says.
– Omikron accounts for 90 percent of all new cases
Health care company Discovery Health says their data is from the first three weeks of the omikron wave and points out that the numbers are therefore preliminary. Genetic sequencing shows that Omicron infection accounts for 90 percent of all new cases in South Africa and has established itself as the dominant variant after Delta. This is what the CEO, Dr. Ryan Noach, in Discovery Health.
– The fourth wave, which was characterized by omicrons, has a significantly steeper course with new infections compared to the previous waves. National numbers show exponential growth in both infections and positive test results in the first three weeks of this wave, suggesting a highly contagious variant with rapid spread of the infection in the population, Noach said in a statement.