Is that it? The original epicentre of the Omicron outbreak in South Africa, Gauteng province, has not seen reported daily infections increase for four days now.
One thing we don’t know from the available data is how much of the recent increase was due to increased testing in the country following the discovery of the Omicron variant. This means the spike may have been exaggerated by extra testing.
Combined with the reports that Omicron appears to produce milder disease, does this mean the Omicron scare is a false alarm? It’s looking that way.
On the other hand, a study from South Africa has found that antibodies from the Pfizer vaccine are more than 40 times less effective against Omicron compared to the original Wuhan strain. Data like this will be worrying governments relying on vaccines to avoid restrictions (always a bad idea – restrictions should be rejected on principle, because their harms outweigh any benefits, not made conditional on vaccines working), despite the wider reassuring news about Omicron.