Vaccination offers best protection against new Covid subvariant, says expert

Vaccination offers best protection against new Covid subvariant, says expert

The Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Wits says those who have been previously infected with the coronavirus, and those who have not kept up with vaccinations, may not have great protection against the latest subvariant of Covid-19.

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Alissa ECKERT / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP

"At the same time, we have seen the same from other sublineages of the Omicron variant, including BA.5, where it already causes people to become infected because it is able to evade antibody responses from infection and vaccine," says Shabir Madhi, who is also a professor of Vaccinology at Wits. 

"People still remain protected from severe disease and I am very optimistic that the same thing will apply to the sublineage of the parent Omicron variant." 

BA.2.75 (Centaurus) is a subvariant of the Omicron variant first identified by South African experts last year.

There's concern from scientists around the world that the new subvariant is highly contagious.

Shabir Madhi says rather than returning to wearing masks to protect citizens, we need to look at vaccines. 

"The reality is that masking is not the way to protect us from severe disease in South Africa. The way to protect ourselves in a very sustainable manner is to get high-risk individuals vaccinated and asking people to mask, especially when there are variants such as Omicron, which is high transmissible. 

"Asking in the South Africans context hasn't protected the people from being infected reason being because and poor adherence but also because if you really want the mask to work, people need to adhere to the masking."  


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