Prof Helen Rees: Latest developments regarding new variant

Prof Helen Rees: Latest developments regarding new variant

Professor Helen Rees spoke to Breakfast with Martin Bester about the new COVID-19 variant - and what they know about it so far. 

Professor Helen rees

Listen to the full interview below.

The Omicron variant was detected in South Africa in November.

COVID-19 cases have started to increase and are still increasing, especially in Gauteng. 

READ: Germany announces lockdown for unvaccinated people

Health Minister Joe Phaahla and a panel of experts confirmed that while some information about the variant remains unclear, they do know that it's spreading fast. 

Breakfast with Martin Bester spoke to an infectious disease specialist, Dr Richard Lessells, about the new variant and what South Africans can expect. 

"There is a lot of uncertainty. As we start putting together data we will know more about the variant.

READ: Dr Richard Lessells: Everything we know so far about the new variant

"The vaccines remain a critical tool to keep us out of the hospital."

On Monday, 6 December, Breakfast with Martin Bester spoke to professor Helen Rees, who is an international vaccine expert based in Johannesburg. 

She chairs the WHO AFRO Regional Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (RITAG). She also chairs the CEPI Scientific Advisory Committee and the GAVI Programme and Policy Committee.

READ: Martin Bester gets to know Johannesburg mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse

She is a member of the South African MAC Committee and the MAC Vaccine committee advising the Minister of Health on COVID-19. She is also a member of the WHO IHR Emergency Committee on COVID-19.

Rees spoke about the latest developments regarding the variant. 

"So far people are reporting milder cases but we need to remember that it is still early days. 

"People in hospitals are unvaccinated. Unvaccinated people need to realise that there will be consequences."

Prof Rees also encouraged listeners to wear their masks, to make sure that there is fresh air ventilation, and not to be in crowded rooms. Listen to the full interview above.

Tune in to the 'Breakfast with Martin Bester', weekdays from 06:00 - 09:00. Stream the show live here or download our mobile app here. 

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