South African scientists’ research shows that no Covid-19 variant, including Omicron, emerged from Africa. But their research also shows that the Covid-19 variants are possibly mutations taking place inside infected persons – using them as host for evolution.
WHAT RESEARCH SAYS ABOUT THE OMICRON VARIANT
According to the research, if the immune system of a person suffering from HIV among other disease becomes weak, it could therefore give way for the variants to emerge. As a result, the emergence of Omicron, the transmissible Covid-19 variant, may be linked to an infected person or persons with a compromised immune system.
According to Professor Linda-Gayle Bekker, who heads the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in Cape Town, a “fully functional” immune system should be able to combat a virus within a short period of time.
“Normally your immune system would kick a virus out fairly quickly, if fully functional…In someone where immunity is suppressed, then we see virus persisting. And it doesn’t just sit around, it replicates. And as it replicates it undergoes potential mutations. And in somebody where immunity is suppressed that virus may be able to continue for many months – mutating as it goes.”
And according to Professor Tulio de Oliveira, who heads the team that confirmed the discovery of Omicron, “10 to 15” similar cases to the omicron infection had been found in other parts of the world, including the UK. He also added that:
“It’s a very rare event. But it is a plausible explanation that individuals that are immuno-suppressed…can basically be a source of virus evolution.”
However, the discovery has caused some level of economic damage for the country due to travel bans from Western nations. It has caused controversy accompanied with death threats on social media directed to the South African scientists.
The group are standing by their discovery that the emergence or evolution has no link to the continent as foreign fingers try to point at it.
Professor Salim Karim, a leading HIV specialist and the former chair of the South African government’s Covid19 advisory committee admits that for now it is yet to be proven but disagrees with the speculations against Africa.
“But it’s not proven. We’ve seen five variants come from four different continents. So, to scapegoat Africa is simply outrageous…It’s saying that we’re not worried about immuno-compromised people from the rest of the world. We’re just worried if they’re black and from Africa,” the Professor added.
By Elijah Christopher