Two studies were released this week that provide contrasting lenses on SA’s experience of the latest Covid-19 variant and on perceptions of the vaccine, closing a year in which variants and vaccines dominated our social and economic landscape. They prompt questions, too, about the next phase for the virus.

The first, from Discovery, made global headlines as the first real world study of the new Omicron variant. It draws on the comprehensive data Discovery has on its member base as well as the health insurer’s leading edge data analysis tools. It will surely help to reposition SA as a country of scientific prowess, not just one from which scary variants come. It comes with the obvious cautions about how early stage the data is, but its findings confirm that Omicron is much more infectious than any of the previous variants but much less severe, with a 29% lower chance that those who test positive will be hospitalised, and only 13% of those hospitalised ending up — so far — in h...

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