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“Anecdotally, we are seeing a lot of reinfections. What we don’t know at the moment, because we haven’t got the data yet, is how many of those people are unvaccinated vs the vaccinated.
“While people are freaking out, the other thing to stress is that if you look across the variants, the vaccines have protected against severe disease, hospitalisation and death. Looking at the Omicron mutations, though there are an awful lot of them, there’s nothing to indicate the ability of vaccines to fight this is going to be affected to a very great extent.
“In truth, it doesn’t want to kill you, it wants you to stick around.
“The only ones putting their hand on their hearts and telling the world don’t worry, this is going to be mild, haven’t learnt enough humility yet in the face of this virus.
“It’s always nice to hope, but don’t set everything on this because I think your hopes could be dashed.”
The variant has been found in 23 countries at the moment, the WHO said, but a backlog of cases across the globe could reveal its presence in several more. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing on Thursday: “It is deeply concerning to me that SA and Botswana are being penalised.” He thanked the two countries for “detecting, sequencing and reporting so rapidly” on Omicron, and said that a “blanket travel ban will not prevent the international spread of the virus and will place a heavy burden on livelihoods”