Doctor who discovered Omicron variant of COVID talks about ‘unusual’ but mild symptoms it causes

COVID-19 coronavirus testing at BNH Hospital, Bangkok

COVID-19 coronavirus testing at BNH Hospital, Bangkok.Photo: Courtesy of BNH Hospital / flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The B.1.1.529 variant of the coronavirus, baptized by the WHO as the Omicron variant, has half the world on tenterhooks after it was detected this month in South Africa. There are still more unknowns than certainties, but little by little more is becoming known. For example, its symptoms are unconventional but mild.

Angelique Coetzee is a South African doctor who was the first to alert about the existence of this new variant. Dr Coetzee says she was first alerted to the possibility of a new variant when patients in her private practice in Pretoria had COVID-19 symptoms that made no sense.

The cases included young people from different backgrounds, all with intense fatigue and a 6-year-old boy with a high pulse. None of them suffered loss of taste or smell, both symptoms that are strongly associated with ‘traditional’ COVID.

“Their symptoms were very different and milder than I had treated before.”

In mid-November, when four members of one family tested positive for COVID with symptoms of full-blown exhaustion, she informed the country’s vaccine advisory committee.

She said that in total about two dozen of her patients tested positive for COVID-19 with symptoms of the Omicron variant.

They were mostly healthy men who showed up “feeling very tired” and about half of them had not even received a single dose, a common problem in South Africa and other parts of the African continent, she told the Telegraph.

In any case, Dr Angelique Coetzee, has asked not to “panic unnecessarily” about this new variant, the symptoms of which are, according to the data she has at the moment, “very weak”.

“What we are seeing in South Africa and, remember, I am at the epicenter, is very weak. For us it’s mild cases,” she told the BBC. “I’m pretty sure that in the UK,” where two cases have been confirmed, “there is unnecessary panic, although in two weeks’ time I could be saying otherwise.”

-Thailand News (TN)

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