COVID-19 hospitalizations plunged more than 90% in South Africa as the new, more contagious omicron variant crowds out delta.
The country reports “a much lower rate of hospital admissions and signs that the wave of infections may be peaking,” according to Bloomberg.
Omicron first hit South Africa, and hit hard.
Correction: Omicron hit a lot — hard, not so much.
Fewer than 2% of detected COVID cases required hospital admissions in the second week of this omicron wave, compared with nearly 20% in the second week of the delta wave. That’s according to South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla.
Bloomberg can’t help but indulge in a little fear-mongering, reminding readers that “new cases in that week of the current wave were more than 20,000 a day, compared with 4,400 in the same week of the third wave. That’s further evidence of omicron’s rapid transmissibility.”
Well, so what?
Omicron, as I reported last week, presents at worst as a mild flu:
“Mild” is the same word used by Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who was one of the first to identify the latest variant. People she treated with omicron had symptoms “so different and so mild from those I had treated before,” she said.
Virtually all of Netcare’s patients “presented with mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, including a blocked or runny nose, headache and a scratchy or sore throat,” according to a summary by News24.
“Take a NyQuil and don’t bother calling me in the morning,” is pretty much what my doctor would tell me to do with those symptoms, provided they didn’t get any worse.
In that same column, I quoted Richard Friedland, head honcho of South Africa’s largest health provider: “I actually think there is a silver lining here and this may signal the end of COVID-19, with it attenuating itself to such an extent that it’s highly contagious, but doesn’t cause severe disease.”
Indeed. As of last week, non-deadly omicron had almost completely crowded out the barely-deadly delta variant, accounting for three-quarters of all new cases.
Nevertheless, I had to read a week’s worth of warnings from our nation’s 24/7 panic mongers that we still didn’t know enough about omicron to give the All Clear! signal. Keep those double-masks on and stay hidden in the basement.
Well, is a 90% decrease in hospitalizations and exactly zero omicron deaths enough for our professional panic-mongers?
Is anyone with half a lick of sense still paying attention to them?