South Africa study finds end of Covid pandemic phase in sight

by WorldTribune Staff, January 9, 2022

Researchers at South Africa’s Steve Biko Academic Hospital found that the outbreak of the less-severe Omicron variant of Covid may lead to the end of the acute pandemic phase of the virus.

The December 2021 study, funded by the South African Medical Research Council, compared 466 hospital admissions from the Omicron spread to 3,976 admissions four months before the Omicron outbreak.

The study found a significant decline in in-hospital deaths, ICU admissions, and length of stay in hospital.

“The wave increased at a faster rate than previous waves, completely displacing the Delta variant within weeks and began its decline in both cases and hospital admissions in the fifth week following its commencement,” the researchers said, adding that there are “clear signs that case and admission rates in South Africa may decline further over the next few weeks.”

“If this pattern continues and is repeated globally, we are likely to see a complete decoupling of case and death rates suggesting that Omicron may be a harbinger of the end of the epidemic phase of the COVID pandemic ushering in its endemic phase,” the researchers added.

In the endemic phase, the virus will circulate in parts of the global population for years, but its prevalence and impact will come down to relatively manageable levels. Thus, it becomes more like the flu.

The South Africa researchers revealed that, in the Steve Biko Academic Hospital COVID-19 wards on Dec. 14–15, 63 percent of patients had incidental Covid, meaning that they were asymptomatic for the virus and were admitted for medical, surgical, reproductive or psychiatric reasons.

“This phenomenon of ‘incidental COVID’ is not a phenomenon observed before in South Africa and most likely reflects high levels of asymptomatic disease in the community with Omicron infection,” the researchers explained.

(The Epoch Times reported on Jan. 9 that over 40 percent of patients currently hospitalized in New York were admitted for reasons other than Covid.)

The researchers added that their findings “were comparable to city-wide trends when cases and admissions from all public and private hospitals reported.”

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