Covid-19 spike due to vaccine hesitancy, infectious nature of Omicron


Experts say vaccine hesitancy coupled with the infectious nature of the Omicron variant is to blame for the current Covid-19 spike. Democratic Alliance shadow MEC for health Jack Bloom said the recent spike of Covid-19 infections was driven by a more infectious Omicron subvariant. Moreover, it was spreading because people were spending time indoors due to colder weather. “The vaccines often don’t prevent an infection but they are very good at preventing severe disease,” he said. Covid-19 spike in South Africa Vaccine hesitancy to blame Bloom said the main problem was not how many people had the boosters, but the…

Experts say vaccine hesitancy coupled with the infectious nature of the Omicron variant is to blame for the current Covid-19 spike.

Democratic Alliance shadow MEC for health Jack Bloom said the recent spike of Covid-19 infections was driven by a more infectious Omicron subvariant.

Moreover, it was spreading because people were spending time indoors due to colder weather.

“The vaccines often don’t prevent an infection but they are very good at preventing severe disease,” he said.

Covid-19 spike in South Africa

Vaccine hesitancy to blame

Bloom said the main problem was not how many people had the boosters, but the high number of vulnerable people who haven’t had one vaccine dose yet.

Professor Shabir Madhi, dean of the faculty of health sciences and professor of vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand, said vaccine hesitancy was not to blame for the resurgence of infections.

“It contributes to what would otherwise be preventable causes of hospitalisation and death,” he said.

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Booster shots

Dr Angelique Coetzee said hesitancy to have the booster might play a slight role in the recent infections.

“It is important to understand that the booster is not the answer. It is to get people to take the second shot, before boosters,” she added.

Coetzee said the vaccines do assist in preventing mild diseases.

“What we are seeing, despite the recent spike, is due to mild infections. The vaccine will protect you against severe disease or hospitalisation and death.

“We can also see those numbers are low, so there is no strain on the healthcare system,” she explained.

Omicron’s infectious nature

Coetzee said if one has been vaccinated or have had Omicron, one could still get infected again.

“The rise of infections was of the subvariant and because of the nature of the subvariant,” she explained.

Vital to take booster shots

General practitioner Dr Leon Odendaal said boosters were definitively still necessary.

He said doctors’ rooms have overflowed with patients of late with various symptoms from seasonal flu to Covid-19.

Odendaal said there were more than just Covid-19 viruses affecting the community currently.

“The majority of these infections, according to laboratory surveillance, are still caused by Covid-19,” he said. Odendaal said that was why it was important to get the booster shots.

“We now know that the booster not only stimulates antibodies against Covid-19 but also other parts of the immune response are stimulated,” he said.

“It will also in all likelihood be protective against the future possible mutations of the virus”.

Concerns from the public

Ilse van Rooyen, who was fully vaccinated, said she was hesitant to get the booster.

“After I took the second jab, I started getting a rash. I went to the doctor immediately who diagnosed me with the shingles,” she said.

Van Rooyen had to take more than 20 pills daily to recover from the infection. She was worried the side effects would be even worse after getting the booster shot.

“You hear stories of people dying from taking the vaccine and the boosters, so you cannot help but wonder whether to get another jab,” she said.

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