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COVID Notes #6

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December 18, 2021 7:34 p.m.

Keep an eye on an emerging discussion about the apparent peak of infections in Gauteng province in South Africa. That is the region where Omicron was first discovered and where its spread first caught fire. (We don’t actually know where it originated.) I don’t want to characterize what this means because I know nothing. But even the people who know a lot don’t appear to have a clear idea what it means. I note it here because even though it’s not clear what it means it does seem to be different enough to what was expected to require some explanation. And that explanation could deepen or change our understanding of what Omicron is.

Professor Shabir Madhi of University of the Witwatersrand notes that Omicron crested after 4 weeks compared to 8 weeks for the earlier two waves. In his thread Madhi provides other tentative but encouraging numbers on disease severity. But it’s the apparent plateau that seems to have people scratching their heads. Others, including Tulio de Oliveira who did the first lab work on Omicron, suggests caution, pointing to population shifts in Gauteng at this time of year.

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