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the explainer

The Explainer: What can we learn from South Africa’s Omicron wave?

Can we say for definite now that Omicron is milder than other variants?

IN NOVEMBER, THE new Covid variant Omicron had people worried for two main reasons – it appeared to be a lot more transmissible, and there were hints that it could partially evade immunity we had gained, either from vaccines or from having Covid.

Although there were clues that it could be milder than Delta, the world looked on with concern as cases in South Africa soared – from 400 to 2,000 cases daily over the course of 10 days, and rising above 20,000 before long.

Now, Ireland is estimated to be week out from the peak of its Omicron wave, while South Africa is passed that point – and possibly two weeks out from when the entire wave will end – much quicker than the length of previous Covid waves.

Mia Malan, the editor-in-chief of Bhekisisa – an award-winning health journalism centre in South Africa – tells The Explainer what Ireland can learn from South Africa’s experience of dealing with an Omicron-fuelled surge in cases.

How did South Africa’s hospitals fare, why is South Africa so good at testing for Covid-19 and identifying variants – and do we finally have enough evidence to say for sure that Omicron is ‘milder’ than other variants?

Listen here:

The Explainer / SoundCloud

This episode was put together by presenters Gráinne Ní Aodha and Michelle Hennessy, and producer Nicky Ryan. A special thanks to Stephen McDermott.

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