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Peter Bruce talks exclusively to Wits vaccinologist and dean of medicine Prof Shabir Madhi about our response to the Omicron Covid variant.

And there is good news and bad (beyond that fact that Japan has entirely closed its borders, including to the economies that have shut SA out).

First, early outbreaks with the variant appear to be relatively mild, at least among vaccinated people. Madhi reckons it could take two to three weeks to see what kinds of pressure hospitals come under.

The bad news is that we don’t know enough yet. Madhi warns people who have had just one shot of the Johnson & Johnson jab need another one and that two shots of the Pfizer vaccine provide much greater protection.

He hopes the government soon imposes vaccine mandates for entry into shopping malls, Post Offices and the like (but not hospitals). And, he says, get the hospitals prepared. One of the first ways of doing that is to clear your trauma unit, a move that always ends up with restrictions on alcohol sales. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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