South Africa was the first country to sound the alarm about the Omicron variant. Now the wave has passed – and other countries are looking to learn from its experience. Data shows how the Omicron variant causes a spike in case numbers – because it is highly infectious – a lot more than previous coronavirus variants. South Africa’s fourth wave was therefore sharper – but also shorter. But crucially, the Omicron wave has so far resulted in fewer deaths than previous waves. There were also fewer hospitalisations this time around. Some experts conclude that Omicron is less dangerous. But others have warned that many cases may go unreported or undetected, so the real numbers of cases and deaths could be much higher. They’re warning not to underestimate Omicron as a “milder” variant.
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