According to the World Health Organization (WHO), surviving a corona infection does not protect against infection with the new omicron variant. “We think that a previous infection does not protect against Omikron,” said infectiologist Anne von Gottberg of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Thursday at a press conference of the WHO Regional Office for Africa.
The question will be explored further, said the scientist. However, initial observations suggest that people who have already been infected by Omikron could contract Covid-19 again. Then the symptoms were apparently often less severe. According to von Gottberg, the existing corona vaccines should continue to protect against serious diseases.
The variant was first detected in South Africa a week ago. It has 32 mutations compared to the previously common coronavirus. According to WHO information, the Omikron variant has now been detected in more than 20 countries, including Austria.
India reported the first two Omicron cases on Thursday. In the southern state of Karnataka, two men aged 46 and 66 years tested positive for the Corona variant, said a representative from the Ministry of Health. Now all of her first and second degree contacts would also be tested.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the African Union (Africa CDC) warned of panic over the new variant of Omicron. “There is no need to panic,” said Africa-CDC boss John Nkengasong at a press conference. “We are not left without protection.” The AU is also concerned, but “does not believe that the situation cannot be controlled”. His authority has been preparing for the appearance of a new corona variant “for a long time”, emphasized Nkengasong.
The vaccination rate in Africa is very low, however, only seven percent of the 1.2 billion inhabitants are fully vaccinated against Corona. This is due in particular to the inadequate supply of vaccines to the continent as well as to a pronounced vaccination skepticism in many places.