South African research finds Omicron variant more contagious but less likely to cause serious illness

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Reuters

Omicron may raise re-infection risk; booster protection documented

Survivors of previous infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, known as SARS-CoV-2, may be at higher risk for re-infection with the Omicron variant than with earlier versions of the virus, according to preliminary findings. In South Africa, where Omicron was first reported, researchers reviewed data on nearly 2.8 million infections and saw that while the risk of a first infection rose when the earlier Beta and Delta variants spread during the pandemic’s second and third waves, the risk of re-infection was low and did not change. SARS-CoV-2 infections are usually diagnosed without genetic sequencing to confirm the responsible variant, so this study cannot prove that Omicron is better able to evade the immune defenses put up by the body in response to a previous infection.

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