Countering global alarmism about the omicron variant of COVID-19, the doctor who first discovered it says the strain is “mild” and hasn’t caused an uptick in hospitalizations.
Travel Bans and Other Virus Restrictions
Governments across the world are imposing new travel bans and other virus restrictions in response to claims the new strain is more transmissible and could prove more deadly than delta.
However, those with the most expertise on the ground in South Africa are all saying the opposite.
Barry Schoub, chairman of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, told Sky News that the panic had been misplaced.
No “Noticeable Symptoms”
“The cases that have occurred so far have all been mild cases, mild-to-moderate cases, and that’s a good sign,” said Schoub.
Again contradicting claims that the new strain is likely to be more dangerous than delta, Schoub also pointed out that the omicron variant having a large number of mutations and therefore makes it less “fit” than the dominant delta strain.
“At the same time, one could make the point that while Omicron could soon become the dominant strain due to its higher R-nought (or pace of transmission), that could be a blessing in disguise as it pushes out the much more dangerous (and more stable) delta strain.”
Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, echoed Schoub’s sentiments, noting that the patients infected with omicron had “symptoms (that) were so different and so mild from those I had treated before.”
Coetzee asserted that she hadn’t observed any “prominent symptoms” and that the variant doesn’t appear to be putting pressure on hospitals.
“What we are seeing clinically in South Africa and remember, I’m at the epicenter, that’s where I’m practicing, is extremely mild,” she stressed.
Responding “definitely” when asked if authorities were panicking unnecessarily, Coetzee attempted to dispel alarmist fearmongering.
“We haven’t admitted anyone” to the hospital with the new variant, she said. “I spoke to other colleagues of mine, the same picture.”