Reinfections 3 times more with Omicron
Biden opens winter battle as Omicron spreads in US, Australia
JOHANNESBURG, Dec 3: A preliminary study by South African scientists published Thursday suggests the Omicron variant is three times more likely to cause reinfections compared to the Delta or Beta strains.
The findings, based on data collected by the country's health system, provides the first epidemiological evidence about Omicron's ability to evade immunity from prior infection. There were 35,670 suspected reinfections among 2.8 million individuals with positive tests until November 27. Cases were considered reinfections if they tested positive 90 days apart.
"Recent reinfections have occurred in individuals whose primary infections occurred across all three waves, with the most having their primary infection in the Delta wave," tweeted Juliet Pulliam, director of the South African DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis.
US President Joe Biden announced Thursday a winter campaign against Covid-19, with new testing requirements for travelers and a surge in vaccination efforts as the new Omicron variant threatens to revive the pandemic. "It's a plan that I think should unite us," Biden said, speaking from the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health in a Washington suburb.
"I know Covid-19 has been very divisive. In this country, it's become a political issue," he added. "A sad, sad commentary. It shouldn't be, but it has been." Biden's updated actions include the requirement that all inbound international travelers be tested within one day of flying.
This will apply to all travelers, both American and foreign, regardless of vaccination status, a US official said. For domestic travelers, Biden will announce he is extending a mask mandate on airplanes, trains and other public transport through mid-March.
The United States and Australia announced their first locally transmitted cases of the Omicron variant as authorities worldwide rushed Friday to stem the spread of the heavily mutated strain of Covid-19. The World Health Organization has said it could take weeks to determine whether Omicron is more transmissible and whether it causes more severe infections -- as well as how effective current treatments and vaccines are against it. -AFP