Flash Briefing: Natural immunity mitigating Omicron severity, survey shows; DA majority coalition in Tshwane; Musk named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

  • Leading scientists have stated that the extent of natural immunity against the coronavirus among SA’s population due to earlier infections may be mitigating the severity of illness caused by the Omicron variant. Since the discovery of the variant in SA and Botswana was announced on November 25, hospitalisation rates in SA have risen, though at a much slower pace than in previous waves, even as cases are rising more rapidly. The number of deaths has also been lower. A recent seroprevalence survey in Gauteng, where the Omicron variant was first identified, showed that 72% of the population have previously been infected with the coronavirus, thereby gaining natural immunity. These findings provide further evidence of the protection afforded by natural immunity.
  • The City of Tshwane will be run by a majority coalition government with 109 seats in the council, ensuring what will likely be a stable government for the metro. On Tuesday, Tshwane Mayor Randall Williams announced his mayoral committee after weeks of coalition negotiations between the DA and other political parties. The DA has run the City through an unstable coalition government since 2016. Its reliance on the EFF frustrated it. But Williams said his administration was starting with a majority coalition for the first time. The agreement comprises six parties: ActionSA, the DA, Cope, the FFP and the ACDP. The combined support means the DA has a majority backing of 109 seats in the council – enough to meet the 50% plus one requirement. 
  • Elon Musk has been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year”, capping a run during which the head of Tesla solidified his standing as the world’s richest person and turned his onetime electric-vehicle start-up into a $1trn company. Time explained its choice of the groundbreaking and often controversial executive, saying: “Few individuals have had more influence than Musk on life on Earth, and potentially life off Earth too. He sees his mission as solving the globe’s most intractable challenges, along the way disrupting multiple industries.” The accolade, often reserved for world leaders such as Barack Obama, adds another trophy to Musk’s increasingly full case.
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