Bounding the levels of transmissibility & immune evasion of the Omicron variant in South Africa Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractA new SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern, Omicron (B.1.1.529), has been identified based on genomic sequencing and epidemiological data in South Africa. Presumptive Omicron cases in South Africa have grown extremely rapidly, despite high prior exposure and moderate vaccination coverage. The available evidence suggests that Omicron spread is at least in part due to evasion of this immune protection, though Omicron may also exhibit higher intrinsic transmissibility. Using detailed laboratory and epidemiological data from South Africa, we estimate the constraints on these two characteristics of the new variant and their relationship. Our estimates and associated uncertainties provide essential information to inform projection and scenario modeling analyses, which are crucial planning tools for governments around the world.One Sentence SummaryWe report a region of plausibility for the relative transmissibility and immune escape characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant estimated by integrating laboratory and epidemiological data from South Africa.


  • Pearson, Carl AB
  • Silal, Sheetal P
  • Li, Michael
  • Dushoff, Jonathan
  • Bolker, Benjamin
  • Abbott, Sam
  • van Schalkwyk, Cari
  • Davies, Nicholas G
  • Barnard, Rosanna C
  • Edmunds, W John
  • Bingham, Jeremy
  • Meyer-Rath, Gesine
  • Jamieson, Lise
  • Glass, Allison
  • Wolter, Nicole
  • Govender, Nevashan
  • Stevens, Wendy S
  • Scott, Lesley
  • Mlisana, Koleka
  • Moultrie, Harry
  • Pulliam, Juliet RC

publication date

  • December 21, 2021