- Fully vaccinated people have 3.8 times lower risk of dying of Omicron, new data suggests.
- The Western Cape health department has released data showing the effectiveness of vaccines in the province.
- Those who are fully vaccinated also appear less likely to be infected with Omicron.
Fully vaccinated individuals have 3.8 times lower risk of dying of the Omicron variant than non-vaccinated individuals.
This is according to data by the Western Cape Department of Health, released in a digital briefing on Thursday, which showed the effectiveness of vaccination against the Omicron variant.
The data showed that Covid-19 vaccines offered similar protection against Omicron as other variants. The vaccines offered a 3.2 times lower risk of death in previous Covid-19 variants.
In addition, vaccinated individuals had 3.3 times less risk of developing severe illness should they contract Omicron. This was 3.4 times less with previous variants.
The department found that of 55 Covid-19 deaths recorded in the Western Cape over a four-week period, 50 patients were not fully vaccinated.
The data showed that in patients 60 and older, 32 deaths had occurred between 15 November and 11 December. Of these deaths, 28 had been partially vaccinated or unvaccinated patients.
In the 35 to 49 age group, which had the second-highest number of deaths over the same four weeks, of the 11 deaths recorded only one was a fully vaccinated individual.
In addition, the department said its raw data indicated that vaccination offered protection against infection, across all age groups.
On 7 December, almost 66% of those 60 and older in the province had been fully vaccinated. However, this group of fully vaccinated individuals made up only 21.6% of cases in the age group.
In those aged 50 to 59, fully vaccinated individuals made up 56.7% of the population. However, this group accounted for only 22.3% of the Covid-19 cases in that age cohort.
These two age groups were most at risk of developing severe symptoms, admission or death should they contract Covid-19.
Western Cape health department head Keith Cloete said initial evidence suggested that the Omicron variant may cause less severe illness, but there was clear evidence that re-infections occured with Omicron.
According to Cloete, the proportion of cases with severe disease had been lower with Omicron - something that was likely due to the high number of cases in younger people, who were less susceptible to developing severe symptoms, and immunity from vaccination or prior infection.
"We should not kid ourselves that there is not severe disease with Omicron. There is, it is just in much smaller numbers than previous variants," he said.
"To date, vaccines appear to still provide strong protection against severe disease from omicron and remain our best defence," he added.