Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association said it was unfortunate that Omicron had been hyped as “this extremely dangerous virus variant” with multiple mutations while its virulency was still unknown. The World Health Organization has designated it a variant of concern, and scientists are working to assess its behaviour.
Coetzee, a South African doctor who raised the alarm over Omicron said Sunday dozens of her patients suspected of having the new variant had only shown mild symptoms and recovered fully without hospitalisation.
Coetzee alerted health officials of a “clinical picture that doesn’t fit Delta” — South Africa’s dominant variant — on November 18, when she received the first seven of her 30-odd patients. She said South African scientists had by then already picked up on the variant, then just known as B.1.1.529, which they announced on November 25.
A top adviser to the South African government Virologist Barry Schoub, the head of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 vaccines on the coronavirus pandemic said that while the new Omicron variant of the virus — first documented in his country — was worrying, he did not believe the strain would lead to a major new wave of serious illness.