Omicron in South Africa

New mutation

A new mutant variant of the Corona virus has been known for several weeks. The Omicron variant is closely linked to South Africa. On November 24, South Africa reported research findings on a new mutation of the Corona virus to the World Health Organization.

Weak immune system

There is great concern about the new mutation. It is suspected that Omicron can bypass the human immune system even better than the previous mutations. Even people who have already been vaccinated or recovered become infected with Omicron. 

The spike protein plays an important role in this. This is the area that is crucial for penetration into human cells – and for protection by antibodies. It is against the spike protein that the body forms antibodies when infected with the virus. Vaccines also stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against this protein. In addition, there are mutations near the so-called furin cleavage site. This is a region that plays a role in the uptake of the virus into human cells. However, the Omicron variant is not yet well understood. The severity of the courses of infection with the Omicron variant cannot yet be concluded.  

Omicron and the media

It is possible that Omicron has been in circulation for much longer. Moreover, the variant is spreading in all parts of the world. Just because South Africa documented and reported it first does not automatically mean it originated there. However, this is often misunderstood. Existing prejudices, stereotypes and stereotypical images play a major role here. In the media, people talk about the “South African Corona variant”. This reproduces a distorted image.  

In South Africa, there is anger and disappointment that the Western world is blocking travel routes and restricting air travel. Moreover, the renewed border closure does not apply to all countries, but mainly affects South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa describes the decision as a purely political one, not based on scientific arguments. The consequences for South Africa hit the high season phase of tourism.  

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