S.Africa says vaccines mean milder COVID

There have been early anecdotal accounts suggesting that the Omicron variant driving the fourth wave is causing less severe illness than previous variants in South Africa but scientists say it is too early to draw firm conclusions.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla told a news conference that they believed vaccination and natural immunity of people who had previously had the virus was addition to the lower levels of severe disease.

Addressing the same news conference, Michelle Groome from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said there had been an uptick in COVID-19 hospital admissions and deaths, but not as severe as previous waves.

South Africa has given 44% of its adult population at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, more than many African countries but well short of the government's year-end target.

The country reported a record number of daily infections of COVID-19 earlier this week.

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