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A nurse prepares a dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine as the new variant of Omicron spreads, in Dutywa, Eastern Cape province, South Africa, November 29, 2021. REUTERS/ Siphiwe Sibeko

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JOHANNESBURG, Dec 2 (Reuters) – The novel Omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a three times higher risk of reinfection than the currently dominant Delta variant and Beta strain, a group of South African health bodies said on Thursday.

The South African Center for Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis (SACEMA) and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said the latest findings “provide epidemiological evidence for Omicron’s ability to evade immunity against a previous infection”.

Their statement was released after a group of South African health organizations published an article on medrxiv.org as a pre-print, meaning the work was not yet certified by a review by the peers.

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Earlier in the day, NICD microbiologist Anne von Gottberg echoed the same views in an online press conference hosted by the World Health Organization, saying South Africa was seeing an increase in reinfections. to COVID-19 due to Omicron. Read more

South Africa has seen a sudden increase in daily reported coronavirus cases, with the government reporting 11,535 new infections on Thursday, up from 312 ten days ago.

The NICD, which alongside a wider network of health organizations performs genome sequencing on samples, said on Wednesday that the Omicron variant was able to circumvent some immunity and was rapidly becoming the dominant variant in the country. Read more

An analysis of routine surveillance data from South Africa from March 2020 to November 27 showed that “the risk profile for reinfection of Omicron is significantly higher than that associated with the beta and delta variants during the second and third waves,” the NICD said in the statement. Thusday.

An increase in reinfections rather than new infections would be an indication that the new variant has evolved the ability to evade natural immunity from a previous infection, he said.

Juliet Pulliam, director of SACEMA and author of the pre-print article, said in her article that the Omicron model should be established in all provinces of South Africa by early or mid-December, said the NICD.

The analysis is based on 2,796,982 people with positive test results at least 90 days before November 27, of which 35,670 were suspected reinfections, he added.

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Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Edmund Blair

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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