Boosters for the oldies, plus five talking points from ‘Vrye Weekblad’

Here’s what’s hot in the latest edition of the Afrikaans digital weekly

10 December 2021 - 06:52 By TImesLIVE
A healthcare worker administers the Pfizer vaccine to a man in Johannesburg.
A healthcare worker administers the Pfizer vaccine to a man in Johannesburg.

Unless a more virulent and resistant covid-19 variant than Omicron emerges, it is likely the pandemic will disrupt lives and economies to a lesser extent in 2022 than feared. Two or three annual vaccinations may, however, be in store for all older and vulnerable people.

“Fully vaccinated” will soon mean three rather than two vaccinations. In SA people who have had two doses of Pfizer vaccine are now eligible for a third dose, while 12 to 17-year-olds can get a second dose. Pfizer/BioNTech’s research shows two doses of its vaccine are less effective against the Omicron variant than three doses. 

There is increasing consensus among researchers that Omicron is considerably more transmissible than Delta, but causes less severe, more flu-like symptoms. It will be another week or two, three before this will be proven scientifically. If and when that happens we can expect most international travel bans to be lifted. Countries may prefer the Omicron variant to the Delta variant. 

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Omicron is already the dominant variant in Gauteng and is expected to soon be the case in the rest of the country. Research in Britain shows Omicron spreads much faster than Delta. The numbers double every three days, which means 2,500 daily cases could translate to 100,000 cases by Christmas. 

According to a senior virologist working for the state, who doesn’t have permission to be quoted, the virus evolves to increase transmissibility rather than virulence. This process will continue even if most people have been vaccinated. “I suspect this is what happened with Omicron. If we’re lucky, this pattern will continue and we’ll eventually see Covid as not much more threatening than flu.”

However, he warns there is no certainty. “Next week we could discover a variant from hell. I don’t expect this to happen, but it could happen.” 

Read the full article, and more news, analysis and interviews in this Friday's edition of Vrye Weekblad. 


Must-read articles in this week’s Vrye Weekblad

REASON WINS | Political discourse in SA matured in many ways during debate in the National Assembly on the amendment of article 25 of the constitution. 

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK | One thing is for sure: After an exhausting 2021, 2022 will most definitely not be boring. 

FREE TO READ — LEKKER THINGS | Dubbed Turkish telenovelas, a solo trip to the Karoo, Boris Johnson's running shoes, Dolly Parton, a hike at Cape Point, Brazilian jazz and the lighthouse at St Francis. These are a few of our favourite things for 2021. 

CYRIL'S NEW YEAR | Cyril Ramaphosa has described this year as "challenging" and catastrophic. Which "vulture" will determine Cyril's 2022?

NOT HER FINAL CHAPTER | Ghislaine Maxwell's hearing is another chapter in her saga that stretches over decades and involves everyone from Mossad and Twitter to ex-presidents and royalty. Don't think this is the end for Ms Maxwell, though.


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