A South Africa health official warned Wednesday that they are seeing a spike in hospital admissions in the country, despite suggestions that the new omicron variant could be milder.
Dr Waasila Jassat, who monitors the week on week increases in hospitalization, said the transmissibility of the variant meant that even though "the percentage of cases admitted" to hospital was relatively low, the overall increase in the number of infections caused record numbers of hospitalisations.
Jassat added that the majority of those who have been hospitalized are unvaccinated, with another researcher in Tshwane district also finding the same.
It comes as Pfizer said Wednesday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may offer important protection against the new omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective.
Omicron, discovered late last month, carries an unusually large number of mutations and scientists are racing to learn how easily it spreads, whether it causes illness that is more serious or milder than other coronavirus types - and how much it might evade the protection of prior vaccinations.