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Omicron could displace Delta: South African study

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Australia sees record hospitalisations
California first US State to top 5 mn cases
India clears two more COVID vaccines, antiviral pill
People queue to get a PCR test against COVID-19 in Queens, New York State.

SOUTH AFRICA, AUSTRALIA, US, INDIA: Research by South African scientists suggests that Omicron could displace the Delta variant of the coronavirus because infection with the new variant boosts immunity to the older one.

The study only covered a small group of people and has not been peer-reviewed, but it found that people who were infected with Omicron, especially those who were vaccinated, developed enhanced immunity to the Delta variant.

The analysis enrolled 33 vaccinated and unvaccinated people who were infected with the Omicron variant in South Africa.While the authors found that neutralisation of Omicron increased 14-fold over 14 days after the enrolment, they also found that there was a 4.4-fold increase in neutralisation of the Delta variant.

“The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals,” the scientists who conducted the study said. The results of the study are “consistent with Omicron displacing the Delta variant, since it can elicit immunity which neutralizes Delta making re-infection with Delta less likely,” they said.

According to the scientists, implications of this displacement would depend on whether or not Omicron is less pathogenic compared to Delta.

Meanwhile, Hospitalizations due to coronavirus in Australia’s most-populous state New South Wales have reached the highest level since mid-October, as a surge in omicron cases throughout most of the nation pressures the health system.

New South Wales on Wednesday recorded 11,201 new COVID cases in the past 24 hours, up 87% from the previous day’s figure. Testing centres in the state continue to be under heavy demand with some results taking longer than 72 hours. Victoria, the second-most populous state, also saw new cases on Thursday jump to a record of 3,767.

Meanwhile, California became the first state to record more than 5 million known coronavirus infections, according to the state dashboard Tuesday, which was delayed by the holiday weekend.

The grim milestone, as reported by the California Department of Public Health, wasn’t entirely unexpected in a state with 40 million residents poised for a surge in new infections amid holiday parties and family gatherings forced indoors by a series of winter storms.

The first coronavirus case in California was confirmed Jan. 25, 2020. It took 292 days to get to 1 million infections on Nov. 11 of that year, and 44 days from then to top 2 million.

California’s caseload is also ahead of other large states. Texas had more than 4.4 million and Florida topped 3.9 million as of Sunday. California has recorded more than 75,500 deaths related to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, The Centre on Tuesday cleared two more vaccines and one anti-viral drug to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two latest vaccines cleared by India are Corbevax and Covovax, sources said. The anti-viral drug Molnupiravir can be used during emergency. Corbevax is India’s first homegrown “RBD protein sub-unit vaccine”, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted this morning. Its the third vaccine in India,” Mr Mandaviya said. The other two vaccines developed in India are Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield. The nanoparticle vaccine, Covovax, will be manufactured by the Pune-based SII. – THE INDIAN EXPRESS,THE HINDUSTAN TIMES, THE STATESMAN

Thursday, December 30, 2021 – 01:00

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