The South African doctor who first brought attention to COVID’s Omicron variant is telling people not to panic. At least not yet.
Omicron Variant Emerged In South Africa
Last November, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, alerted the country’s vaccine advisory committee of her findings.
She observed that multiple COVID-19 patients reported experiencing significant fatigue. Dr. Coetzee said that her 30 patients tested positive for COVID-19, but showed unfamiliar symptoms.
“What brought them to the surgery was this extreme tiredness,” she said. Apparently, Coetzee discovered the first patients of the COVID’s emerging Omicron variant.
Thankfully, the new variant eventually showed only mild symptoms. Coetzee’s patients fully recovered without hospitalization.
Coetzee believed these symptoms appeared mild. “Looking at the mildness of the symptoms that we are seeing, currently there is no reason for panicking as we don’t see severely ill patients,” Coetzee said. However, she did express concern for the elderly, especially the vaccinated.
Omicron Showing Mild Symptoms So Far
Coetzee said that the variant seemed to originate with the 40-and-under group. She also said that the most predominant clinical complaint consisted of severe fatigue lasting for one or two.
Other minor symptoms also include headaches and body pain. In fact, Dr. Coetzee said that one very young patient reported high pulse rates and fever. However, the patient recovered within two days.
“What we are seeing clinically in South Africa … is extremely mild. For us, (they’re) mild cases. We haven’t admitted anyone. I spoke to other colleagues of mine, same picture,” Coetzee said.
The media asked Coetzee if the US, UK, and Europe are panicking unnecessarily. The doctor said that these countries might already have the Omicron variant in their area.
So the answer if they’re panicking, she said “I would say yes, at this stage, I would say definitely. Two weeks from now, maybe we will say something different.”
Omicron Strain is a ‘Variant of Concern’
Additionally, the World Health Organization designated Omicron, formally known as variant B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern. This brought a round of interest from governments and pharmaceutical companies.
Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are now looking into developing variant-targeted booster shots. A BioNTech spokesperson said that they’ll need time to develop one though.
“In the event that vaccine-escape variant emerges, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke about Omicron over the weekend. “So the critical questions now are: Do the antibodies block this well? And what is the seriousness of the disease?
So there are enough people right now in South Africa that our South African colleagues are following to determine is this highly transmissible, but doesn’t really give a severe disease, or does it really give the same kind of severity that we’ve seen with Delta and other variants?
All of these are gaps in our knowledge that we are all over and going to find them out pretty quickly.”
Watch the 9 News Australia video reporting that Omicron COVID-19 symptoms ‘unusual but mild,’ according to South African expert:
Should countries start worrying about the Omicron variant? Would you rather overprepare for this one, or just how things develop before taking a plan of action?
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