Durban: Ten percent of people hospitalised during the fourth wave died from Covid-19 complications in comparison to 20 percent during the previous waves.
This is according to clinical risk expert Dr Jacques Snyman, who works as a medical adviser to Health Squared Medical Scheme.
Snyman said while the Covid-19 infection rate during the fourth wave was as high as previous waves, there were significantly fewer deaths.
“From scheme data, we could see there were many people testing positive, but few were so ill that they needed to be admitted to hospital.”
Snyman said members who were vaccinated demonstrated significantly better protection against severe illness, and barely a handful, mostly older people with co-morbidities, were hospitalised in the fourth wave.
“This indicated that the vaccine is still providing strong levels of immunity and protection against severe disease even if infection was caused by the Omicron variant,” said Snyman.
“Although breakthrough cases have been recorded, vaccination remains the best available means of protection.”
Dr Snyman points out that during the fourth wave, nationally, the percentage of people testing positive and hospital admissions peaked in mid-December and has been sharply declining since.
“In the first, second and third waves, some 20% of the patients hospitalised with Covid-19 passed away, but this reduced to around 10% of admitted patients in the fourth wave. This could suggest that despite the Omicron variant being more transmissible – hence the steep curve in infections in December – this variant may be less virulent or ‘aggressive’ than the original, Beta or Delta variants that dominated previous waves.
“As more people choose to be vaccinated, fewer people are at risk of developing severe illness, and we should not underestimate the proportion of the population who were infected in previous waves – even if they did not necessarily experience symptoms – and may have developed natural immunity, providing some protection now.”
Snyman reminded people to get vaccinated, remain vigilant and keep up the reasonable precautions that are in place, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.