A South African pulmonologist, Anita Graham, said on Thursday (January 13) that she was still seeing serious COVID-19 disease in people who are unvaccinated or have co-morbidities during the current infection wave being driven by the Omicron variant.
“We are still seeing very serious infections and admissions in patients who are unvaccinated and also in patients who have co-morbidities… and this includes the elderly population,” Graham told a news conference organised by the World Health Organization’s Africa office.
Joined by Doctors Abdou Salam Gueye and Phionah Atuhebwe, Graham said: “To describe our current experience with this fourth wave, we are definitely experiencing this very large fourth wave of Covid, and 95% of all of these infections are of the Omicron variant which is different to what we are seeing in North America.”
She said: “It’s definitely the most contagious variant with a massive upsurge, record upsurge in cases, however despite this massive upsurge in cases and infections we are definitely also seeing the least of all severe Covid waves with much less hospitalisations and much less ICU requirements.”
However, she said, “we are still seeing very serious infections and admissions in patients who are unvaccinated and also in patients who have co-morbidities and this includes the elderly population.
“Our vaccination remains the best most effective way of protecting ourselves and our patients from severe disease, hospitalisation and death.”
10 million cases in Africa
Africa has now reported over 10 million COVID cases according to the continent’s top public health official, director of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director John Nkengasong said in an online press briefing today.
Nkengasong went on to say that the official death toll stood at 223,000 with the majority reported in South Africa, which accounted for 35% of the total.
The CDC director added that just over 10% of the African population are now fully vaccinated.
WATCH: South Africa still seeing serious Covid-19 cases in unvaccinated people
(Production: Sophie Royle)