Omicron variant more likely to lead to COVID-19 reinfection, study finds

3December 2021

RALEIGH, N.C. — Here’s the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.

7:45 a.m.
Germany on Thursday announced a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated, as its leaders backed plans for mandatory vaccinations in the coming months.

Unvaccinated people will be banned from accessing all but the most essential businesses, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, to curb the spread of coronavirus, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her successor, Olaf Scholz, announced Thursday, following crisis talks with regional leaders. Those who have recently recovered from Covid-19 are not covered by the ban.

Full story here

6:15 a.m.

A new study from South Africa suggests that the new omicron variant might be more likely to lead to COVID-19 reinfection than prior variants, though more research is needed.

The study, which is not peer-reviewed, found that in November, there was an uptick in the rate of reinfections seen within three months of a primary infection, compared to prior surges driven by the delta and beta variants.

Researchers, who reviewed records of over 2.7 million people in South Africa with COVID-19 infections in 2020 and 2021, assumed many cases in November were caused by omicron, even though the first cases of the variant were not detected there until late November.

The vaccination status of individuals with suspected reinfections was unknown in the study, so it is unclear if they had immunity from prior infection or vaccination.

WATCH: What does it mean that Omicron was designated a COVID ‘variant of concern?’

Hawaii became the fifth state to detect the omicron variant, after confirming a case through expedited genomic sequencing Thursday, health officials said.

The individual is an unvaccinated resident of Oahu who had a previous COVID-19 infection, the state health department said. The person is reportedly experiencing “moderate symptoms.”

The resident has no recent travel history, indicating that this is a case of community transmission, health officials said.

Hawaii joins New York, California, Colorado and Minnesota as states that have identified COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant.

4:11 p.m.
As cases rise in the colder months and amid concerns of a new COVID-19 variant, President Joe Biden looked to boost his struggling administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by announcing a plan Thursday for a winter coronavirus strategy that includes making at-home rapid tests free, extending the mask requirement on public transit and requiring more stringent testing protocols for all international travelers.

The latest plan does not include more aggressive measures like requiring testing for domestic flights or mandating testing for passengers after their arrival in the U.S.

Shanessa Vansluytman said she supports Biden’s plan to extend the mask requirement on public transportation, including airplanes.

VanSluytman, who was traveling through RDU, told ABC11 that she thinks “it’s a good idea.”

“The more mask mandate there is, hopefully, people will wear them. And it should help you know, with the variant and everything,” she said. “My immune system is sensitive. So I gave my sister a kidney, and then I just had knee surgery, and then I had surgery on my chest.”

Another traveler, Margaret Lange, just flew back to North Carolina from Hawaii

She also said she agreed with the masking requirement and making at-home rapid tests free.

“I think it’s great,” said Lange, a Southport resident. “I think we’re finally getting on the right track about taking kind of the necessary steps that other countries have taken that have proven very successful in reducing the number of cases of COVID.”

But Tim Zapawi, a traveler from Michigan, a state which has faced harsh restrictions, said he would like to see more studies about whether masks really work.

“You just get used to it. It’s been a year, year and a half. I find it painful,” Zapawi said. “I find it painful that people don’t see this for what it is probably.”

Kristin Parks Fuqua flew from Massachusetts to the Triangle to visit a friend.

She also said she supports the masking requirement and the free home tests.

“It’s not a political issue. It’s a safety issue,” Parks Fuqua said. “And if people would wear the masks, I mean, masks are horrible. I agree. They’re uncomfortable, they’re hot. But if they’re going to keep you safe, they’re are a whole lot better than being in an emergency room or in a hospital on an intensive care unit.”

Reporting by ABC11’s Gloria Rodriguez

3:11 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 8,069 total positive COVID-19 cases since March 2020.

It also reports 42 new positive COVID-19 cases since Nov. 18 and a total of 144 COVID-19 related deaths countywide since the start of the pandemic.

12:42 p.m.
North Carolina added 3,780 new coronavirus cases, up from 2,350 cases a week ago.

It’s the second day above 3,000 cases, mirroring mid-October numbers.

In total there have been 1,540,824 cases in the state since the start of the pandemic,

The daily percent positive is 7.4%, up slightly from the previous day (7.3%).

A week ago, it was 4.9%. The percentage is climbing and staying high but is still not as high as what we saw last year post-Thanksgiving.

Hospitalizations are at 1,214, a daily increase of 57 people. That’s compared to 1,087 a week ago.

A total of 31 new deaths were reported, giving the state a total of 18,807 attributed to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

As for vaccinations, 61% of the full NC population is vaccinated; 73% of the adult population.

About 27% of people who are fully vaccinated are also boosted.

Copyright © 2021 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved – The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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