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South African doctors gain insight into 2-week-old omicron variant

A health care worker prepares to conduct a PCR COVID-19 test at the Lancet laboratory in Johannesburg on Nov. 30, 2021. (Emmanuel Croset/AFP/Getty Images)
A health care worker prepares to conduct a PCR COVID-19 test at the Lancet laboratory in Johannesburg on Nov. 30, 2021. (Emmanuel Croset/AFP/Getty Images)

In less than two weeks, the omicron variant has spread to 45 nations, among them the U.S. where it’s been identified in at least 17 states.

But the epicenter of infections is still in South Africa, in the Tshwane district northeast of Johannesburg, where cases appear to be doubling daily. According to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the positivity rate in the country is more than 26%.

That has given South African researchers a front row seat when it comes to researching, studying and tracking the variant — so what are they learning?

Here & Now‘s Scott Tong talks to South African infectious disease expert Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the South African Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.