Countries around the world are closing their borders while scientists are competing to understand the extent of the danger posed by the rapidly spreading omicron coronavirus mutants.
But there may be some good news.
According to South African doctors who treated patients infected with the variant for the first time in the world, the symptoms of the new variant appear to be milder than what we have learned from Delta and Alpha. And in most cases it can be treated at home.
Angelique Kotze, president of the South African Medical Association, told Reuters that, unlike Delta, patients did not report any loss of smell or taste, and the new variant did not significantly reduce oxygen levels.
Overwhelming fatigue was a major symptom among patients tested positive for Omicron in her busy Pretoria practice.
“Their symptoms were very mild, very different from what I had previously treated,” Dr. Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, told The Telegraph.
About 20 of her patients, mostly healthy men (half unvaccinated), tested positive for the mutant.
On November 18, she notified the National Vaccine Advisory Board when all four families were completely exhausted and tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite Dr. Coetzee’s direct insights, the World Health Organization remains unclear whether the first detected Omicron in South Africa is more contagious than other variants or causes more serious illness. It states that it is not.
“Currently, there is no information suggesting that the symptoms associated with Omicron are different from other variants,” he said in a statement.
“The first reported infection was among college students (younger people who are more prone to milder illness), but it takes days or weeks to understand the level of severity of the Omicron mutant.
“Prevention is always important because all variants of COVID-19, including the globally predominant delta mutant, can cause serious illness and death, especially in the most vulnerable people.”
WHO states that it “takes days to weeks” to determine the level of severity of Omicron.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief infectious disease officer in the United States, told President Joe Biden on Sunday that it would take about two weeks to get more clear information about Omicron.
The White House said Fauci believes that existing vaccines “are likely to provide some protection against severe cases of COVID.”
OMICRON: New COVID-19 symptoms that we all need to be aware of
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