Covid: Faced with Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 variants, South Africa hit by 5th wave can ‘lead’ the world

South Africa is affected by a fifth Covid wave because of the new BA.4 and BA.5 variants. The current management of the epidemic could “steer” the world if these variants spread to other countries, as was the case with Omicron, an epidemiologist estimates.

As a sandbox of Covid-19 and its variants, South Africa is a real textbook case for researchers around the world in the evolution of the epidemic. Once again the country is preparing for a new wave, the fifth, carried by new subvariants of Omicron, explains Le Parisien this Tuesday, May 10th.

In a matter of weeks, South Africa saw its number new infections rising, albeit at lower levels than during its 4th wave in late 2021, but very rapidly. Enough to usher in “clear signs of a fifth wave in South Africa,” epidemiologist Tulio de Oliveira said.

Last November, he and his teams were the first to discover the Omicron variant, which shook the whole world and still paralyzes millions of Chinese with health restrictions.

So history repeats itself at regular intervals. Roughly every six months, the Covid sweeps across the country, often serving as a global indicator of the virus’ behavior and evolution.

Place at BA.4 and BA.5

As Le Parisien reports, South Africa is currently facing a crisis new Omicron subvariants. We already knew BA.1 and BA.2, now it’s the turn of BA.4 and BA.5 to be closely observed by scientists. While these “little ones” from Omicron do not constitute a reason to compare them in terms of dangerousness with the original strain or with Delta, on the other hand they are much more transmissible than BA.2, the majority currently in France, by + 20%.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking that a new variant would be required to start a new wave, Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are very different from BA.1 as the other variants were from each other,” says Tulio de Oliveira. In insisting on this point, the latter recalls the peculiarities of these two lineages of Omicron.

Summary of BA.4 & BA.5 in South Africa
– 100% of infections
– Refueling of the 5th wave
– Low tests and high positivity ratio
– Rising number of hospital admissions, but still significantly lower than in previous waves
– SA can lead the world into the future of the pandemic

— Tulio de Oliveira (@Tuliodna) May 8, 2022

likelihood of reinfection

According to the epidemiologist, these two variants are present a strong positive report, a measure of the percentage of positive cases compared to the number of tests performed. Thanks to a mutation in their protein Topwhich allows the virus to cling to our body, these two variants are more transferable and more likely to evade immunity.

Another monitored point regarding BA.4 and 5, their ability to do so reinfect several times the same person who would have already been infected with BA.1. A study published on May 1st and cited by our colleagues suggests that unvaccinated people may be at even greater risk of reinfection.

With these first elements, Tulio de Oliveira believes that South Africa “lead” The rest of the world is faced with these new variants. If they are not very present in France at the moment, the current hegemony of BA.4 and BA.5 in “the rainbow nation” will allow new rules to be established and a more flexible one Dealing with the Covid epidemic, which is increasingly being treated like the flu or other seasonal virus with each emergence of a less dangerous but more easily transmissible variant.

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